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Malia January of Spring Hill poses with one of her home run balls. She hit seven on the season and drove in a team-leading 30 runs.

SPRING HILL — Malia January was the offensive spark plug for a Spring Hill Lady Bronco softball team that scored more than 10 runs per game.

January was a second baseman for Spring Hill. The Lady Broncos had a need in the outfield. January unselfishly left the infield to chase down fly balls in the outfield.

“She was our lead-off hitter,” Spring Hill coach Corey Katzer said. “She led our team in home runs and runs batted in. She moved positions at the beginning of the season from second to left field, and she played spotless defense for us.”

January was selected the Tri-County Spotlight Softball Player of the Year.

“Being selected for this award is beyond amazing,” January said. “It is such a huge accomplishment. I have had many setbacks during my softball career due to multiple injuries which I have had to work exceptionally hard to come back from.

“With these obstacles I have had to overcome it makes this all the more special to me,” she said. “This is so exciting, having others recognize your hard work, and I am so grateful for this opportunity.”

January was a first-team Spotlight softball team selection at outfield. She was also a first-team selection on the All-Frontier League Softball Team.

She batted .422 for Spring Hill. January had 27 hits in 69 at bats. She drove in 30 runs and had 25 runs scored. January had five doubles and seven home runs.

January helped the Lady Broncos score 237 runs in 23 games. Spring Hill was 21-2 on the season, winning a regional championship and a share of the Frontier League title.

“I think our season exceeded everyone’s expectations this year,” January said. “We had a new coach who had very high expectations for us, but with those came our success in this season. We had such a competitive group of girls this year, so wanting to surpass them wasn’t an issue.

“Our competitive mindset allowed us to win league, regionals, and took us all the way to state,” January said. “Our first round of state was probably the best competition we’ve seen all year, especially in the pitching aspect of the game. Even though we lost, it showed us how bad we wanted it and how hard we will work to get back there next season. This is technically my first year of high school ball due to injuries. To have such an amazing team my first year with an exceptional season is unbelievable. I’m so excited for next season and to see what more we can accomplish then.”

Sports Editor Gene Morris can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or gene.morris@miconews.com.

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