By Kayla Smithgall
The 2015-2016 girls varsity softball team consisted of seniors Megan Kaiser, Lauren Szabo, Alexis Rutz-Egan, Jenna Knudson, Kylie Ross and Halee Woltemath, juniors Taylor Knudson and Aurora Prinsloo, sophomores Brooke Polenz, Cassidy Paxton, Grace Reeves, Bailey Rausch and Emory Underwood and freshman Riley Alber.
The team finished their season with a league record of 8-3 and an overall record of 16-6.
The Lady Tigers began their season with a win against Scottsbluff 15-5. The team had a batting average of .559, 39 plate appearances (PA), 34 at bats (AB), 15 runs (R), 19 hits (H) and nine runs batted in (RBI). Kaiser, Reeves and both Knudsons each had three hits. J. Knudson had four RBIs. Szabo and J. Knudson each had a double (2B). Polenz had 11 put outs (PO). T. Knudson had a earned run average (ERA) of .175 after pitching four innings. Ross and Rutz-Egan both stole two bases.
Kaiser and Szabo have both been playing softball for 12 years; they started when they were five years old.
The girls traveled to Valley and beat the Vikings 14-4. Szabo had a sacrifice hit (SH). The team had seven base on balls (BB) and a fielding percentage of .929. Rutz-Egan had three stolen bases and Ross had an ERA of 1.00 after pitching all seven innings.
The craziest thing that happened to Szabo during the season of her final year in high school was getting hit in the face. For Kaiser, it was falling down between first and second base when she was celebrating an inside-the-park homerun.
The team was victorious their next three games when they played and defeated Brush 15-7, Platte Valley 20-0, Lyons 11-1 at home. Against the Beetdiggers, Polenz had a home run (HR), Szabo and Woltemath both had a 2B, and Rutz-Egan had a triple (3B). Facing off against the Broncos, J. Knudson had a HR and 2B, Szabo had two 2B and Woltemath and Kaiser both had a 2B. When the girls played the Lions, Polenz and Szabo both had a 2B and Rutz-Egan had a 3B.
In Kaiser’s opinion, softball is different from other sports because a player relies on her team more than herself and it requires more mental toughness than physical.
Szabo’s favorite memory of playing softball is being regional champions for four years. Kaiser’s favorite memory is getting to play with her best friends.
The Lady Tigers then won against Adams City 12-1 and Palisade 11-6. They went to the Berthoud Tournament and lost against Greeley West 10-9 and Berthoud 7-2.
The girls then succeeded Greeley Central 12-0. Polenz and J. Knudson had one 3B each and Szabo and Ross both had a 2B. Szabo, Rutz-Egan and Underwood all stole a base. Ross pitched an ERA of 0.00 after she pitched five innings.
Underwood has been playing for 11 years.
“One of my goals for the season was to make varsity. But most importantly I wanted to be the best I could for my team and teammates no matter the outcome of the state tournament,” she said.
Underwood feels her goal was met by everyone playing as a team and being there for each other throughout every game of the whole season.
The team was victorious over Eaton 16-5, lost to Strasburg 11-6, beat Valley 10-0 and were defeated by Brush 6-3.
The Lady Tigers captured their next four games against Platte Valley 15-0, Lyons 12-2, Eaton 10-9, and Greeley Central 24-0. Rutz-Egan got a 2B and 3B and stole two bases against the Broncos. When they faced off against the Lions, J. Knudson, Kaiser, Polenz, Szabo and Woltemath all had a FP of 1.000, leaving the team FP 1.000. Polenz, T. Knudson and Rutz-Egan all stole bases for a total of five stolen bases against the Reds. Against the Wildcats, Ross had a 2B and 3B and Woltemath had three 2B. T. Knudson pitched a 0.00 ERA in four innings.
Knudson has been playing softball for about 10 years. She decided to play at a young age because it was a sport she was able to play with her sisters. T. Knudson has played on varsity since her freshman year. This means, not only has she had her dad as a coach for three years, but she has also gotten to play with her sister for three years.
“It was such an incredible experience to play with my sister. I’ve been playing with her ever since I can remember and it was so much fun to play one more year with her. I also learned a lot having been coached by three amazing coaches not only about sports but also myself,” said Knudson.
The girls ended their regular season with a loss to Strasburg 3-0.
In districts, they won against Eaton 18-3. Woltemath had a 2B and HR and the Lady Tigers had six SB. Ross pitched a 7.00 ERA in three innings and Rutz-Egan pitched a 0.00 ERA in one inning.
“The craziest thing that happened this season was during state. We all went out to Texas Roadhouse to eat dinner and we told our waitress it was Coach Kilmer’s birthday. We sang to her and she was on the saddle and she played along very well!” said Underwood.
In the first round of state, the team beat Lamar 12-5. After playing eight innings, the girls lost in the second round of state to Eaton 6-5.
“I coach softball because it is a great game and I have been able to be around some incredible ladies these last four years who really wanted to learn and get better.We had a sensational year and the run was incredible,” said coach Bob Knudson.