Sunday, January 5, 2020

      Two former standouts who played a big role in their teams winning Ohio State Championships are now headed for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.
      Monroe Central grad Leekycia Brown and St. John Central product Natalie (Perzanowski)
Bigelow will represent the decade of the 2000s during the conference's annual hall of fame induction ceremony, which is slated for Saturday, Aug. 15.
      The entire OVAC Hall of Fame, which is sponsored by Robinson Auto Group and housed at
WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, class will be announced by the committee every two weeks.
      The next release will contain the honorees from the 1990s and it will be announced on Jan. 19.
Here's a capsule look at the honorees from the 2000s:
      LEEKYCIA BROWN, Monroe Central (Class of 2005) -- This right-handed ace lettered in multiple sports during her time with the Seminoles, but it was in the circle where she made her biggest
      Brown led the Seminoles to the 2004 Division III State Championship by pitching every inning of
the 32-game season.  In the state title game, against Wheelersburg, Brown pitched a complete game, striking out four and walking two in the 1-0 victory.
      During that junior season, Brown finished with a 0.62 earned run average and an astounding
290 strikeouts.  She pitched no fewer than 18 shutouts.  She also shined at the plate.
      As a junior, Brown guided the Seminoles to the regional championship game and batted .455.
For her career, she was a .354 hitter.
      All told, during her prep career, Brown finished with a 91-16 record, 900 strikeouts and just 49
walks. S he pitched nine no hitters and five perfect games.  At the time of her graduation, she held the Ohio record for consecutive innings pitched without allowing a walk at 76.
      Obviously, plenty of accolades followed Brown. She was a first-team All-Ohio selection as a
sophomore and junior.  She earned second-team accolades as a freshman and honorable mention as a senior.  She was named All-OVAC first team four times and was the Eastern District and OVAC Player of the Year as a sophomore and junior.
      Her prep exploits earned her a scholarship to Norfolk State where she competed for four
seasons.  As a freshman, she was named the team's Rookie of the Year after leading the squad in hitting (.339) and ERA (2.68).  As a junior, she was named to the conference's All-Academic Team and finished 10-9 on the rubber with a 3.07 ERA.  She was named the team's MVP following the season.
         Along with softball, Brown lettered in basketball for the Seminoles, earning all-OVAC.
      Leekycia currently resides in Virginia Beach, Va.
      NATALIE (PERZANOWSKI) BIGELOW, St. John Central (Class of 2008) -- Distance running --
whether it was track or cross country -- was the way of life for this former Lady Irish standout.
Bigelow was a key cog in the Lady Irish track team's four-year run of dominance that saw them
win two state championship, two state runner-up trophies, and four consecutive OVAC titles.
All told, Bigelow claimed seven state-level medals in track, including winning the 1600 and 3200
meter run state titles in 2006.  She also has a trio of bronze medals in her collection along with a fifth and seventh in the 4x8 during 2008 and 2006, respectively.
      At the OVAC Championship, Bigelow finished with 14 conference titles, winning four golds as a
sophomore and senior.
      After her sophomore season, Bigelow was named the Eastern District's Female Athlete of the
      In cross country, Bigelow qualified to the OHSAA State Meet four times and earned all-Ohio in
three of those appearances.  Her best finish came in 2007 when she crossed the line in third.  She was fourth as a junior and eighth as a sophomore.
      She was twice (2005, 2006) the overall OVAC champion and in 2004 and 2007 won the Class
1A/2A title.
      Bigelow was named Eastern District Athlete of the Year for Division III in both 2005 and 2006.
Along with her exploits on the track and CC course, she was a three-time Academic All-Ohio
honoree in both sports.
      While distance running was where Bigelow really made her presence felt she was also an
impact performer for the Lady Irish basketball program during her four years.  She scored 991 career points, had 388 steals, passed out 306 assists, and pulled down 297 rebounds.
      She was three times listed as first team All-Eastern District and All-OVAC, while helping to lead
her team to three OVAC titles.  She was second-team All-Ohio as a junior and was named The
Intelligencer Sophomore of the Year in 2006 and twice was District 12 Player of the Year in 2006 and 2007.
      After high school, Bigelow went to the University of Toledo to continue her running career.
Natalie, who is married to Michael Bigelow, is currently a teacher and coach at St. Clairsville.

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