UNION (WBNG) — 12 Sports’ Athlete of the Week is no stranger to the big stage. In fact, Emily Hess thrives on it. Last year in the playoffs, Hess went on a 34-inning scoreless streak, pitching Maine-Endwell to its second straight state championship. This season, Hess is picking up right where she left off, striking out everyone in sight.
"She’s just a grinder," said Maine-Endwell head softball coach Joe Mancinelli. "She doesn’t give into hitters. She wants to strike everybody out."
Emily Hess has been mowing down the competition since 2015, leading Maine-Endwell to back-to-back state championships.
"Without her, I don’t think there’s a chance we go as far as we have the last couple years," said former Maine-Endwell softball coach Matt Raleigh in November 2017.
Now a senior, what’s left for the reigning Class A Player of the Year to accomplish?
"I’m always trying to beat my last year’s stats and better myself," said Maine-Endwell senior pitcher Emily Hess. "But, also this year we have a very different team."
A new year, a new team and a new coach.
"It is certainly a lot better to coach her than to coach against her," said Mancinelli.
But, games so far this season have been few and far between.
"I hate the gym," said Hess.
Often softball teams in the Southern Tier get stuck practicing indoors inside the gym, but Hess won’t need to worry about that next year when she heads to Division-I Florida Gulf Coast to continue her softball career.
"I wanted to play in Florida because softball is no fun in the cold," said Hess in November 2017.
The rain and snow didn’t leave any rust on Hess Monday night when she struck out 16 batters against Binghamton.
"Mr. Mancinelli calls my pitches and he likes to mix it up, in-out, high-low, fast-slow," said Hess. "So, I think we just kept mixing it up and keeping them off-balance."
Hess hopes to leave Maine-Endwell with a three-peat, but she’s making sure the Spartan softball tradition continues on when she’s gone.
"I work with a couple of younger girls," said Hess. "So that’s always fun too, because it helps me when I’m coaching them. I learn from it, too."
Hess and the Spartans are 4-0 in 2018. Their next home game is Saturday at 11 a.m. against Elmira.