Magna Vista’s softball team experienced a lot of firsts this season. The Warriors went 17-10, defeated Halifax for the first time and hosted a region playoff game for the first time.
Tuesday, the Warriors saw another first: Junior utility player Zariah Scales was named first-team all-state for VHSL Class 3. After being named to the second team last season, Scales became the first softball player in school history to be named all-state twice, as well as the first player to be named to the first team.
Scales is one of just three Magna Vista softball players to be named to the all-state team.
“I was really excited. I had told my parents at the beginning of the season that was one of my goals,” Scales said Tuesday. “I was just really glad I was able to do that, especially coming off of the season our team had … how much we improved. It was just really good to have that after the season.”
Scales hit .562 fwhile splitting time among shortstop, second base and center field. She had seven home runs, 12 doubles, 38 RBIs, and scored 30 runs with a .614 on-base percentage.
Although she stood out in the batter’s box and on the field, her coach, Brian Brinegar, said she was able to differentiate herself among a crowded Class 3 field based on the way she carried herself among the Warriors.
“She’s definitely a leader on my team,” Brinegar said. “She doesn’t let anything get to her. She has like ice in her veins. She hits really well when runners are on. She’s very, very smart about the game.
“It’s just her leadership and being really an all-around player. She’s really good defensively. Good offensively. And also if she has a bad at-bat or strikes out or makes an error, she’s one of the first ones to be cheering on the next girl. She’s a team player. I just think that all the other girls are kind of feeding off of her. They watch her.
“That’s one thing I’ve tried to always push her about. You’re not going to be perfect every game. If you’re having a bad game you want to have someone picking you up when you’re down. And she’s one of the first ones I see picking her teammates up when they’re down.”
Scales was quick to point out that the honor comes in part thanks to her team’s success, and although it was an individual honor, her team helped get her there.
“Being Zariah, she was really happy to get award, but it wasn’t all about her,” Brinegar said. “She didn’t like getting the award for herself, because she said if her team hadn’t done such a good job, she wouldn’t have been recognized.”
“It definitely feels really good. I’m excited this was the year to do it, especially with the three seniors we had. We’ve all been playing together since parks and rec. With them leaving, it was so memorable for us to play with them one more time,” Scales said. “This year I feel like we definitely improved so much. I couldn’t have asked for a better season. We accomplished a lot, had a lot of firsts this year. … What I did was make sure that I stayed with the team and make sure I did everything for the team I could. Not trying to focus on myself too much. … I had a lot of fun. I focused on having fun and being with the team.”
Scales found out about the all-state honor Tuesday and hadn’t been aware of the history behind it. Since the season ended, she has been spending her summer playing with the Williamsburg Stars travel team, traveling up and down the East Coast to showcase tournaments in front of college scouts.
The team is based out of Williamsburg, but many of her teammates are from other Region 3D schools, such as Tunstall and Cave Spring.
“It’s definitely helped me improve and gain confidence because they’re all so good and just knowing I can play with them,” she said of playing with her school-ball competition.
This summer and upcoming season is about trying to find the right school beyond Magna Vista. Scales said she has some camps at various colleges lined up, but for her it’s about finding right balance between softball and education.
“Looking around at schools and visiting campuses. Making sure I find the school with the program and major I want to study,” she said. “Softball comes after I figure out the school, because I’ll be a student first, and education is really important. So I’m trying to find a good softball school as well.”
Said Brinegar: “I’ve told her there’s still room for improvement. She’s definitely not perfect. I just want to see her improve more, and hopefully we can get a college scholarship somewhere for her to continue her career in college and get her college paid for a little bit.”
And for the Warriors next season, maybe there are more firsts to follow.
“We’re definitely going to improve with the players we have coming up,” Scales said. “I think we definitely can make a run in the district and region. Hopefully we’re playing longer than we were this year too, although we went really far. Definitely just try to keep going farther … just taking it all in and trying to do the best we can.”
Cara Cooper is the sports editor of the Martinsville Bulletin. You can reach her at (276)638-8801 ext. 241.