Courtney Farrish loves smacking a softball over the fence.

“There’s nothing like hitting a home run,” the St. Joseph standout said. “The feeling of the ball hitting the bat at that perfect sweet spot and it just going over, that’s an awesome feeling. Then just rounding third, giving coach a high-five and seeing all my teammates at home plate cheering me on, it’s definitely something I’ll miss.”

Farrish, The Herald-Palladium’s Senior Female Athlete of the Year, has experienced that feeling many times — 46 during her career at St. Joseph, the 11th-highest total in Michigan High School Athletic Association history. Seventeen of those long balls came during a senior season in which she led the Bears to a district title and the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West Division crown.

Farrish is the second consecutive Bear to win the award, following three-sport standout Anna Fischer.

Farrish’s skills at the plate weren’t limited to hitting homers. As a senior, she batted .515 with a .569 on-base percentage and 1.175 slugging percentage, 50 runs batted in and 34 runs scored. She earned all-state honors for a second straight season.

“A lot of practice,” St. Joseph softball coach Joe Spitale said. “She’s a strong girl, she works on strength and conditioning, and she hits a lot. She takes pride in her hitting. She didn’t just wake up one morning and become a good hitter. She’s practiced a lot.”

Farrish got off to a fast start at St. Joseph. Not only did she earn a starting spot as a freshman on a district championship team, she also attracted the attention of college coaches.

Farrish quickly took a liking to Western Michigan, and as a sophomore committed to play for the Broncos.

“It was awesome,” Farrish said. “I love the campus up there, and I love that it’s close to home. I’m a family person, so that’s comforting knowing that. The coaches are really, really nice up there, so I’m excited to play for them.”

Farrish isn’t sure where she’ll play defensively in college.

She played a variety of positions at St. Joseph, including catcher, third base and first base.

“Catching’s my favorite position,” Farrish said. “I’m involved with every single pitch. I love that.

“I think every position has just a different mentality to it, and I like them all. Wherever I’m playing, I’m fine with. I’m in the batting lineup, that’s my favorite part of the game.”

St. Joseph finished 23-8 this season despite having only three seniors.

The Bears beat out several tough opponents, including eventual Division 2 runner-up Lakeshore, for the SMAC West title, and topped Mattawan for the school’s first-ever Division 1 district title.

“She wanted to go out with a good feeling and a good record, and her and the other seniors made sure that was going to happen,” Spitale said. “She was a great leader from day one, she held girls accountable. The year we had was a lot of reflection of her leadership.”

Though she’s graduated, Farrish may not be done providing leadership for the Bears.

“I’m excited to hopefully come back and coach some day,” Farrish said. “I already told coach I want to come back and help after my season next summer.

“I just think that some of my coaches are some of my best friends and best mentors. If I can be that to someone, if I can help teach them the game and help teach them things about life, I just think that’s really cool.”

Contact: bsanders@TheHP.com, 429-1294, @HPBenSanders