The last thing Megan Ebbrecht expected at the conclusion of her junior season was for her Pickerington North softball teammates to vote her either the team's Offensive or Defensive Player of the Year, let alone both.

According to coach Sarah Looker, no player in the program's 16-year history had earned both honors in the same year.

But not only did Ebbrecht lead the Panthers in batting average (.432) and hits (35) last year, she also manned one of the most prominent defensive positions at third base.

"It was a pretty big deal to me (to win both honors)," said Ebbrecht, a senior and three-year varsity player who played some third base in travel ball and moved to that position from shortstop last season. "It felt like home when (Looker) put me there because I felt like it was always my strongest position. I was fast at fielding bunts and just being quick to react to all the balls that come over there, because they do come fast."

Ebbrecht did not get a chance to build on those accomplishments, as this season was canceled because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. She hopes to play this summer with the Buckeye Heat organization and might play club at Wright State, where she will major in business.

"We knew having Megan at third base that she would be on fire there. She loved that position. She owned it," Looker said. "She has a cannon for an arm to get the quicker runners at first. She enjoyed the challenge at third base and just wrapped her arms around that position."

Ebbrecht hit second in the lineup early last season but eventually moved up to the leadoff spot and quickly acclimated.

"It was nerve-wracking because I didn't want to make that first out of the game or let the team down," said Ebbrecht, who was named first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division and second-team all-district. "You have to work the pitcher and see everything she has, especially early in the game. I want to work the count, even if I get a walk out of it."

Heidelberg recruit Emma Dean batted .417 last year to go with a 1.000 fielding percentage in center field. Ebbrecht's predecessor in the leadoff spot, shortstop and Akron recruit Carley Auten, batted .395 with a team-leading three home runs and 24 runs scored.

North went 8-14 overall and 2-8 in the league in 2019 but advanced to its second consecutive Division I district semifinal and third in five seasons, losing to Mount Vernon 11-2.

Rounding out North's senior class were Mackenzie Blazek (OF), Meredith Camacho (1B), Kaylee Cavendish (OF), Morgan Ebbrecht (utility), Keely Harra (1B/C), Roxianne Herdman (OF/3B) and Haylee Pusecker (C).

Camacho was a move-in from Federalsburg, Maryland.

The Panthers' 10 seniors this year were the most in program history, eclipsing the previous largest senior class (2017) by one.

"We still are somewhat (disappointed), but we really thought this could have been a big year," Dean said. "We had a strong lineup. This is a really close senior class, too. We had a lot of team chemistry and could have done some pretty cool things, I think."

dpurpura@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekDave