The parallels between surgery and softball intrigue Janessa Flynn. The mandate that every move be precise. The constant drive for perfection.
It’s one reason why, when she had surgery last year to repair a torn meniscus, the aspiring nurse asked her doctor for a videotape of the operation to watch at home.
And it’s another reason why Flynn, a senior at Wilson High School, is the Class 3A Narrows League’s MVP pitcher and the News Tribune’s All-Area player of the year.
“She’s had a great season, both offensively and pitching-wise,” Rams coach Ron Balmer said. “It was one of the best years of anybody I have seen in my seven years of coaching.”
Flynn was 11-2 in the regular season, allowing seven earned runs and six walks in 51 innings while striking out 58. At the plate, she hit .591 and drove in 26 runs.
It’s exactly the senior season she was hoping for after injuring her leg shortly before districts last year.
“I’m a competitor,” she said. “I despise losing. I just can’t do it.”
Yet, it is still a bit surreal to have led Wilson to its first district championship in school history last weekend.
“People keep saying congrats, and I can’t believe it,” she said. “That whole night was a blur to me – how well we played, how our bats came through at the end.
“There was this spark – we wanted to go out with a bang,” she said. “After not playing last year, I was not going to let it slip away from me.”
Flynn has a similar attitude about this weekend’s state tournament. She said she believes Wilson has a good shot at getting to the title game because some of the state’s top teams – Juanita, Bainbridge and Kamiakin – are on the other side of the bracket.
“They have to play each other,” she said. “We get an advantage, (so) that’s lifting our spirits.”
Flynn is quick to credit her teammates for the Rams’ success, especially the five seniors with whom she has played since freshman year – and her sister, Alex, a junior who backs her up at pitcher.
“Everyone pumps me up and makes me feel good about myself,” she said of the close-knit group that went 17-2 overall in the regular season. “I think we all do that for each other.”
Flynn took up softball at age 8 but said she never expected to go this far in it. She plays club ball with the Rainier Jets and has also dabbled in swimming, volleyball and basketball.
“I thought it would just be something I do for fun,” she said. “I never thought it would pay for my college. It’s been a great blessing to me.”
Flynn plans to study nursing at Howard University, where she signed a national letter of intent to play fastpitch. Her career goals were borne of an interest in the science classes she took at Wilson.
“I think how precise everything they do is and how perfect they have to be at everything is amazing,” she said of medical professionals. “And the human body is interesting to me.”
Balmer said he expects to hear great things about his star player.
“I think she’ll have a really good college career,” he said. “We’re really going to miss her.”
THE NEWS TRIBUNE’S 2012 ALL-AREA FASTPITCH TEAM
Player of the Year: Janessa Flynn, Wilson, senior Flynn gets it done on the mound – 11-2 record – and at the plate – .591 batting average and 26 RBI
Coach of the Year: Craig Coovert, Bellarmine Prep Guided Lions to first Narrows League title in two decades
Pos. Player, School, Class
C Rylee Whispel, Rogers, Sophomore Owns an impressive .990 fielding percentage and .478 batting average
C Alexa Olague, Wilson, Senior Narrows 3A Player of the Year helped Rams to league, bi-district titles; will play at Central Washington University
INF Stephanie Riley, Emerald Ridge, Senior SPSL South Player of the Year helped Jaguars to fourth straight state trip
INF Lana VanDyken, Rogers, Senior North Carolina St. signee is a terror on the basepaths (17 steals), at the plate
INF Makenzie Pletcher, Puyallup, Senior Outfielder-turned-shortstop posted .724 OBP with 24 runs, 21 RBI
INF Hayley Beckstrom, Tahoma, Senior SPSL North Player of the Year hit .514 with 32 RBI; will play at Seattle U
INF Krystalani Yockman, Lakes, Junior SPSL 3A MVP has pop at the plate, can play all over the infield
OF Lexi Goranson, Jefferson, Senior Portland State commit has three consecutive .500 hitting seasons
OF Alexis Engman, Kentlake, Senior Fantastic fielder, first-team all-league pick helped Falcons return to state
OF Taylor Clark, Wilson, Senior Power hitter slugged 20 home runs in career with Rams
Utility Jordanne Krumpols, Shelton, Senior A talented catcher, Narrows 4A co-MVP plays every position except pitcher
P Meagan Hendrix, Emerald Ridge, Junior SPSL South pitcher of year has led team to state past three seasons
P Courtney Schwan, Bellarmine Prep, Sophomore Narrows 4A pitcher of the year averaged more than a strikeout per inning
P Kelli Crawford, Franklin Pierce, Senior PLU commit is a two-time All-Area selection, posted 133 Ks, 0.43 ERA
P Aspen Ison, Peninsula, Junior Two-time SPSL 3A pitcher of the year posted a 1.58 ERA
Best of the Rest
Catchers: Sam Mitchell, White River, jr.; Hollie Wood, Orting, sr.
Pitchers: Erika Henderson, South Kitsap, sr.; Hannah Sauget, Kentlake, sr.; Allie Sims, Sumner, jr.
Infielders: Gabby Braniff, Olympia, jr.; Taylor Buie, Emerald Ridge, sr.; Haley Dusek, Bellarmine Prep, sr.; Maddy Foster, Gig Harbor, sr.; Stephanie Franco, Franklin Pierce, fr.; Anna Lennox, Franklin Pierce, soph.; Aubrey Lindberg, Gig Harbor, soph.; Brittney Lott, Stadium, sr.; Michaela Patton, Jefferson, sr.; Kayla Wells, Bonney Lake, jr; Reno Whitcomb, Jefferson, jr.
Outfielders: Lani Cabana, Steilacoom, sr.; Christian McKone, Bonney Lake, sr.; Kelly McLaughlin, Bellarmine Prep, sr.
Utility: Erika Hobson, South Kitsap, sr.; Nikki Schroeder, Olympia, jr.; Jordan Walley, Tahoma, sr. preps.thenewstribune.com Doug Pacey, staff writer