Staff Photo: Jason Braverman Collins Hill's Kayla Floor helped lead the Eagles to a Class AAAAA state championship and is the Daily Post Player of the Year.
From a statistical standpoint, the 2011 high school softball season may have been the least dominant of Kayla Floor's career as the ace of the Collins Hill pitching staff.
Looking beyond the numbers, however, this fall may very well have been the finest hour for the senior right-hander.
Battling nagging leg injuries that kept her out the better part of a month and with a young offense needing time to find itself, Floor used more than just statistics to help the Eagles to their third straight Class AAAAA state championship, and earn her third straight Daily Post Softball Pitcher of the Year honor.
"The numbers are skewed sometimes," said Paul Pierce, who guided Floor and the Eagles to the title in his first season since taking over for former coach Billy Dooley, who moved on to North Oconee over the summer. "But when you look at what she did, ... it was just a gutsy season. ... I'm so proud of her."
By most standards, Floor's numbers -- a 15-4 record with a 1.11 ERA, 130 strikeouts in 125 innings and four shutouts -- were actually quite solid.
And though they were down compared to the figures she put up the previous two season -- winning 20-plus games with a sub-1.00 ERA and averaging roughly 1.2 strikeouts per inning -- the circumstances she endured to post those numbers this season magnified their significance.
Floor's physical problems started with a strained left hip flexor during her summer travel ball season, and eventually traveled down her left leg to include a torn quadricep muscle and tendinitis in her knee.
"It's still not totally right," Floor confessed earlier this week. "But now I get to rest two months. All winter, I'll be concentrating on strengthening the leg."
Even after a month's rest, Floor had plenty of pain to endure, which often caused Pierce and the Collins Hill pitching staff to keep a watchful eye over her and shortened some of her outings -- including just a one-inning stint in the Eagles' first-round state playoffs series with Grayson.
"I told (the team), we're going to do what's best for us and what's best for Kayla," Pierce said. "We had to trust her to tell us the truth, and she was very mature and very honest with us when she couldn't go."
But more often than not, the Georgia State-bound Floor was able to not only endure, but thrive, even if she didn't always disclose to her teammates as much about how much pain she was in as she did with the coaching and training staffs.
However, a new medical problem that developed while her other ones were being treated just prior to the Eagles' second-round series with Etowah was something she couldn't downplay.
In fact, a rainout on the originally-scheduled day of the doubleheader was the only reason Floor was able to recover enough from an allergic reaction to medication used to treat her sore knee to pitch in Collins Hill's 3-0, 7-1 sweep of Etowah.
"I didn't want them to worry about me," Floor said. "I wanted them to worry about winning the game, so I didn't tell them too much.
"But (the allergic reaction) was something I couldn't hide. I was so dehydrated, I had to get two IV bags (of fluid). Honestly, my friends, my teammates, my family, coaches and physical therapists are what got me through it all."
After that one last setback, Floor was as close to normal as she'd been throughout the season as the Eagles headed to Columbus in search of a three-peat.
And this time, the Collins Hill offense and defense had begun to grow up, thanks to the leadership of fellow senior returning starters Mckenzie Halstead and Brittany Roley, as well as newcomers like Payton Wilson, Calli Star and Emily Buck.
The Eagles gave Floor plenty of early runs to work with throughout the tournament, and the right-hander was able to work through jams in seemingly every game to keep that lead to help the team claim its third straight title.
"This probably was the (most satisfying) season (of the three titles)," Floor said. "Not a lot of people thought we could do what we did."