Your Prep Sports
The softball regular season has come and gone.
A regular season shortened to four weeks due to the coronavirus officially came to an end on Wednesday with only postseason games remaining on the schedules of teams in the Your Prep Sports area.
Before the focus officially turns all the way to the excitement of the postseason and possible trips to the state tournament we take a look back at some of the best performances, moments and players in the Your Prep Sports area from the 2020 regular season.
Best individual pitching performance: Kara Maiers against Waterloo West. Maiers wasn’t just good against the WaHawks, the junior was perfect. Maiers tossed the first perfect game in program history, striking out 17 in a masterful performance that came 48 hours after she tossed a 13-strikeout no-hitter against Linn-Mar.
Best individual pitching performance part II: Kaiya Luneckas vs. Tipton. A five-year varsity starter in the circle Luneckas saved perhaps her best performance for the final regular season outing of her career. Luneckas struck out 16 while no-hitting Tipton in the regular season finale allowing just a pair of walks in an 8-0 West Branch win.
Best individual offensive performance: Ayana Lindsey against Cedar Rapids Kennedy. One of the best players in the state Lindsey put on a show against one of the best teams in the state going, 3-for-3 with a triple, two home runs and five RBI while handing the Cougars their only loss of the season.
Best game: Liberty High against City High. A Raquel Trolliet walk-off single in the 10th inning gave Liberty High an 8-7 win over its cross-town rival in a wild contest that featured five runs in extra innings.
City High scored three times in the seventh to take a 5-3 lead but the Lightning extended the game with two runs in the bottom of the inning. Both teams got a run in the eighth and City High scored a run in the 10th before Trolliet came up with the game-winner in the bottom of the inning.
Most improved player: Clear Creek Amana junior Gabrielle Bedford. Several Clippers took big steps this season but none made more of a jump than Bedford. After hitting .298 with 16 extra-base hits and 21 RBI in 104 at bats last season the junior hit .446 with 13 extra-base hits, including four home runs, 25 RBI and a team-high 23 runs this season.
Comeback player of the year: Solon senior Jadyn Jeter. Jeter took a year away from competitive softball last season but hasn’t skipped a beat in her return. The senior third baseman is hitting .422 with a team-high 10 doubles, two home runs and 30 RBI.
Breakthrough player of the year: Liberty High junior Miranda Jones. How good has Jones been during her junior season. Despite playing roughly half as many games as last year Jones is still approaching the run production she put up a year ago. A .272 hitter with a home run and 33 RBI in 43 games last year Jones has bumped her batting average all the way to .431 while smacking 16 extra-base hits including four home runs and driving in 20 runs in 22 games.
Coach of the year: Jeff Koenig has City High ranked in the top-10 and chasing a state title in Class 4A, Jeff Kelley has Liberty High playing its best at the right time and Dave Johnson won 19 regular season games in his first season at Solon. However, the nod goes to Clear Creek Amana first-year co-head coaches Jodie Scheetz and Ken Thimmesch who have directed the Clippers to a 14-9 record to secure their first winning season since 2015.
Best sibling combo: Regina sisters Elly and Annie Gahan. If there was a Regina rally in a game this season chances are pretty good that there was a Gahan at the center of it. Annie hit a team-high .394 and led the Regals with three home runs and 13 RBI. Senior first baseman Elly ranked second on the team with a .322 batting average as the sisters combined for 29 runs scored and 21 RBI.
Most versatile: West High senior Kiahna Hill. With a combination of speed and power, Hill has always been a versatile offensive weapon but this season the senior added even more to her plate. Hill pitched 40.2 innings, winning a pair of games and leading West High with a 4.82 ERA and played infield and outfield for the Women of Troy all while putting up her regular solid offensive numbers that included team-highs in batting average (.431), RBI (19) doubles (10) and stolen bases (16).
Most consistent: West Branch junior Nicki Henson. A stalwart atop the West Branch batting order since she was an eighth-grader Henson has been a model of consistency for the Bears over the past four seasons. Henson led the Bears in batting average (.531), runs (13) and stolen bases (12) while hitting safely in 13 of 14 games and posting seven multi-hit games.
Rookie of the year: Liberty High eighth-grader Mischa Reiners. Reiners certainly doesn’t look like a rookie and the Liberty High catcher/infielder didn’t play like one in an outstanding varsity debut season. Reiners hit .410 with 11 RBI while striking out just five times in 67 plate appearances.
Unsung hero: West High senior Eva Burbidge. Burbidge isn’t overly flashy and doesn’t have the same flare for the dramatic as some of the players on this list but the senior does anything and everything she can do to help her team win and does most of it very well. A strong defensive center fielder, Burbidge hit .328, led West High in runs (22) and walks (12), drove in eight runs and posted a 5-8 record and 5.31 ERA in a team-high 93.2 innings as the Women of Troy’s top option in the circle.
Most fun to watch: Liberty High senior Brylee Klosterman. The Iowa recruit is a rare five-tool talent with a smooth swing, great speed and strong throwing arm but it is the enthusiasm that Klosterman plays with that makes her a must watch. An old-school type, Klosterman is a combination of diving catches, head first slides and highlight reel plays that always ends the game with dirty uniform and her gas tank on empty.
Newcomer of the year: Clear Creek Amana senior Cheyaenne Bunch. What an offseason pickup bunch proved to be for the Clippers. After rejoining the program for the first time since her eighth-grade season Bunch ranked third on the team with a .429 batting average.
Gold glover: Solon freshman Hilary Wilson. The offensive production will likely always be the focus for Wilson who put up another monster season at the plate hitting .500 with four home runs, 35 runs and 35 RBI. However, as good as Wilson is in the batters’ box she is perhaps even better in the field where she transitioned to shortstop this season after playing third base as an eighth-grader.
Silver slugger: City High junior Carey Koenig. Koenig has proved over the past four seasons that she can flat out hit. The Drake recruit possess the rare combination of a sweet enough swing to hit for a high average (.458) while supplying elite level pop (eight home runs, 31 RBI and a 1.017 slugging percentage).
Cy Young: Liberty High junior Kara Maiers. After closing last season strong Maiers took her game to another level this summer while cementing her status as one of the state’s most dominant pitcher. Maiers won her final seven starts of the season allowing a combined 10 hits and no earned runs over 45 innings in those starts. Overall Maiers went 9-2 with a 1.26 ERA in 77.2 innings and ranked second in Class 5A with 136 strikeouts and fourth in opponents batting average at .129.
Most Valuable player: Clear Creek Amana senior Ainsley Schrock. Few players across the state meant more to the success of their team than Schrock did for the Clippers this season. A five-year varsity starter Schrock enjoyed the best statistical year of her career but just her presence in the middle of the lineup made the Clippers better. Schrock hit a team-high .463 with six home runs and ranked fourth in the state with 37 RBI in just 67 at bats.
Most Valuable player II: City High junior Ayana Lindsey. Lindsey is an elite all-around talent capable of winning a game from the circle, the batters box or the field. One of the state’s best, Lindsey was magnificent again as a junior hitting .508 with a state-leading 10 home runs while ranking second in Class 5A with a 1.143 slugging percentage. Lindsey drove in 29 runs and 17 stolen bases. She also posted a 7-4 record and 2.06 ERA with 67 strikeouts in 64.2 innings.