SANDY CREEK Chelsea Claflin has often been described as a perfectionist.
When reflecting on the best statistical season of her high school softball career that ended with her first appearance in the state tournament, the first word the Sandy Creek junior used was, frustrating.
Its frustrating. I definitely think, without a doubt, we could have had it all this year, said Claflin, Sandy Creeks ace and lead-off batter. But it didnt work out that way.
Claflins desire and drive to constantly improve are a few of the traits that helped her lead the Comets to a 22-win season, the Frontier League regular-season and playoff titles, the Section 3 Class C championship, and their first trip to the state quarterfinals since 2007.
They also helped her earn the accolade of 2012 Times All-North Most Valuable Player for Frontier League softball.
Claflin, Sandy Creeks longest-tenured player with five full varsity seasons under her belt, went 16-2 with 13 shutouts.
She struck out 169 batters while allowing just 14 earned runs, 55 hits and 22 walks in 121 innings pitched.
Claflin was at her best during the teams four-game run through the Section 3 playoffs. She threw four straight shutouts, and struck out 42 batters while allowing just 10 hits and three walks.
Claflin was just as lethal offensively, leading her team in just about every statistical category, including hits (40), runs scored (28), runs batted in (30), doubles (10), triples (3), and home runs (3).
Her .500 batting average, up from .479 last year and .338 two years ago, was best among the teams regular starters. She struck out just two times, the least of any Comets player to register 20 at-bats.
Claflins biggest accomplishment this season, according to Comets coach Bill Fowler, is the way she stepped into leadership role for the all underclassman team.
Shes always been a leader, but this year she did a real good job of leading by example, Fowler said. Its easier to talk to somebody about getting motivated and getting fired up when you already are yourself. I think thats one of the key things she did this year.
I think I did a better job taking charge on the field this year compared to last year, Claflin added.
Claflin will return with her entire team intact next season. The group, mirroring the progression of their leader, has advanced a step further in postseason play the last three years. They lost in the overall Section 3 Class C title game last season, and dropped the Class C-2 final the previous year.
Claflin said that the team is looking to continue that trend and play for a state championship next season.
I think were ready, Claflin said. I think everybody left the last game feeling more confident about next season.
Claflin, like many of her teammates, is already beginning to work toward that goal. She has played in two weekend tournaments with her summer travel team, Northern Nightmare, since the high school season ended.
She is also back to attending pitching lessons in Central Square, and will play with her high school teammates in the Oswego summer league on Tuesday nights.
Most of our team, that next weekend, we went away to play in tournaments to get ready for next year, Claflin said. So, I think, were ready.