Each season, The Derby Informer recognizes the top accomplishments of Panther athletes. These selections are based on performances from the regular season and the postseason.
From seeing playoff-qualifying streaks stretch another season to new league champions, the spring was packed with astounding feats.
— ADAM’S PICKS —
OUTSTANDING FEMALE UNDERCLASSMAN
Alyssa Rowland, Derby soccer
It was not a matter of if but when for the sophomore forward. Toward the end of the 2017-18 season, Rowland’s name came up regularly in conversation when discussing the JV and varsity seasons. With a knack for finding the net, there wasn’t much doubt that she could impact the game at the highest level.
Rowland scored a team-best 10 goals to help Derby finish with a 12-5-1 record. With a robust returning offense next spring that also includes Brianna Moore, Jordan Crone, Katelyn Boales and Sydney Nilles, it’s going to be hard for opponents to know who to stop.
OUTSTANDING MALE UNDERCLASSMAN
Grant Adler, Derby baseball
It’s hard to argue against Adler being one of the best if not the best pitcher in Class 6A due to a three-pitch repertoire and increasing velocity. The junior, who is now 3-1 in the postseason, struck out 67 batters in his second season as the No. 1 starter for coach Todd Olmstead. He also finished the year with a 1.17 ERA.
Run support was a part of Adler’s (3-4) detriment as a junior, but with five returning starters from Thursday’s state-quarterfinal game against Campus, it’s likely that will change in 2020.
Derby girls’ swimming
When I first came to the Informer, Bronwynne Queen’s roster had jumped from 16 to 29 girls. The Derby graduate was seeing the roots of her program come to fruition and two years later, the program won its first league championship in 12 years with 50 swimmers.
One of the biggest attributes of this team was its depth. We regularly detailed through the season that even while it wasn’t winning many individual events or relays, it had a span of winning four-straight meets due to filling the results from second through eighth.
Christy Weve, Derby softball
Reaching the state tournament even once is a noteworthy accomplishment for any athlete or coach. What Christy has done in taking Derby softball to nine-straight trips to state is nothing short of outstanding. There was the elephant in the room of getting past the state quarterfinal game for the second time over that stretch, but kudos to Weve and her staff for instilling the tools and traits needed to silence the nerves and keep their foot on the gas pedal.
OUTSTANDING FEMALE ATHLETE
Madi Young, Derby softball
The four-year starting infielder has put up career highs in many categories, including batting average (.548), slugging percentage (.836), on-base percentage (.616), hits (40) and runs scored (39). (NOTE: Young’s published stats are from after the state quarterfinals.)
I’ve lost track to how many times Young is referred to as being Derby’s spark plug and that may even be an understatement. The senior wreaks havoc on the base paths and is a nightmare for opposing pitchers.
OUTSTANDING MALE ATHLETE
Bryce Atkinson, Derby baseball
How do you go out and claim a starting job? The senior first baseman couldn’t have done it any better. In his first year as a starter, Atkinson led Derby in batting average (.443), home runs (six), slugging percentage (.803) and OPS (1.311). He also tied Adler in hits (27).
After anchoring the offensive line in the fall and helping Derby reach its sixth state baseball tournament in the last seven years, Atkinson put an emphatic cap to his Panther career.