Your Prep Sports
The start of the state softball tournament is right around the corner.
Defending state champion Regina returns to the state tournament seeking to defend its Class 2A crown.
Before things get rolling at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge next week Your Prep Sports takes a moment to look back at some of the best performances, players, moments and games from another amazing season for area teams.
Best individual pitching performance: Ashley Webb against Solon. The Regina senior left-hander has had a career filled with impressive performances but has rarely been as good as she was in a three-hit shutout of the Spartans in Solon. Webb hit one batter while striking out a season-high 13 in the 3-0 win.
Best individual pitching performance part II: Lexi Ellermeier against Cedar Rapids Prairie. No Ellermeier didn’t put up the best statistic performance of the season and she only struck out one. But the City High senior took a no hitter into the sixth and limited a solid Prairie squad to a single hit in a 5-1 win that snapped a five-game losing streak and sparked a doubleheader sweep.
Best individual offensive performance: Iva Senio against Tipton. It was the type of game you can usually only dream about for the West Branch senior centerfielder in an 18-4 win over the Tigers. Senio went 5-for-5 with a double, two home runs, five runs scored, seven RBI and a stolen base.
Best individual offensive performance part II: Addie Miller against West Delaware. The Solon sophomore catcher was excellent all season, hitting .412 with a team-high eight home runs but her best game came in an 8-7 loss at West Delaware when Miller went 3-for-5 with two home runs, two runs scored and six RBI.
Best individual all-around performance: Kyla Schulte against Keokuk. Schulte had plenty of help from her teammates in a 13-1 win over Keokuk but the freshman standout put on quite a show on her own. Shulte homered twice and picked up the win in the circle allowing just two hits while striking out five in a three-inning complete game.
Best clutch performance: Kendall Jensen against West Delaware. It doesn’t get any more clutch than Jensen was in a regional quarterfinal win over the Hawks. After sitting for 11 innings and more than two and half hours, Jensen came on to pitch in the top of the 12th inning getting the final two outs to escape a bases loaded jam. The Solon junior then led off the bottom of the inning with a single that turned into the game-winning run.
Most Impressive Stat line: Hannah Schiele against Bellevue. Schiele put in a full days work and then some in a doubleheader split at Bellevue. The West Branch senior pitched 12 2/3 innings in the opener striking out 18 while throwing 201 pitches and added two hits and drove in two runs in an 8-7 13-inning loss. Schiele added two more hits and three more RBI in a 16-8 win in the nightcap.
Biggest upset: Clear Creek Amana over Williamsburg. What is better than a win over a rival? A win over a number one ranked rival. That’s what Clear Creek Amana got with a 2-1 win over Williamsburg when Kyla Schulte tossed a complete game four-hitter and Aeslyn Massey homered in a two-run Clipper fourth inning.
Best game: Solon against West Delaware. This back-and-forth, 12-inning battle between WAMAC divisional rivals in the opening round of the postseason had it all. The team teams played seven consecutive scoreless innings locked in a 3-3 tie before Solon junior Kayla Meseck plated pinch runner Keegan Kleppe with the winning run in the bottom of the 12th.
Best comeback: Liberty High against Cedar Rapids Kennedy. With its season on the line Liberty High trailed the Cougars 4-0 in the fifth and 6-3 in the seventh before tying the game with three runs in the bottom of the seventh. Liberty High eventually won the 4A, Region 7 quarterfinal when Haley Schroeder scored on a Haileigh Smith RBI single in the eighth.
Biggest hit: Avery Kies against Cardinal. It wouldn’t be the postseason without at least one Regina come-from-behind win and this year’s Regal rally came in the seventh inning of a regional semifinal against Cardinal. With Regina trailing 2-1 Kies led off the bottom of the seventh with a single and two batters later scored on a game-winning, two-run double by Courtney Kessler. It was the leadoff single by Kies that Regina coach Angela Kessler says keyed the rally.
Most improved player: Regina junior Morgan Gahan. Over her first two varsity seasons Gahan was a .187 hitter after batting .183 last season in her first season as a starter. This summer Gahan is hitting .385 with six extra-base hits and 23 runs scored and ranks fourth on the team with 20 RBI.
Unsung hero: Regina senior Jillian Panther. On a loaded roster filled with all-state players it can be easy to overlook the contributions of a player like Panther but Regina isn’t 27-8, ranked number one and making a third consecutive state tournament appearance without the efforts of its senior first baseman/pitcher. Panther hit .278 with a home run and eight RBI and went 5-2 with a 1.47 ERA in 38 innings pitched.
Under the radar standout: Regina sophomore Kennedy Conner. It is easy to focus on some of the stats being put up by Conner’s older teammates but the sophomore has quietly put together her own stellar season to build on what was a solid freshman campaign. Conner is hitting .408 and ranks second on the team with 34 RBI for the top-ranked Regals.
Most patient player: Solon senior Claire LaDage. The last three seasons resulted in a total of 19 at bats for LaDage who had to come back from knee surgery prior to her senior season. After waiting for three years LaDage made the most of her final season batting .256 with nine doubles and 18 RBI while playing a solid third base.
Bounce back player of the year: Clear Creek Amana junior Reese Stockman. Often this award goes to a player that bounced back from a rough season the year before. That wasn’t the case for Stockman who was brilliant a year ago and this season came back after being sidelined for a week mid-season to hit a career-best .429 with nine extra-base hits and 23 RBI.
Breakthrough player of the year: Liberty High freshman Kelsey Kaut. After seeing limited varsity action last season as an eighth grader Kaut took off big time in her first full varsity season batting a team-high .425 with 19 stolen bases, 37 runs scored and 25 RBI.
Most consistent player: Solon senior Hilary Wilson. Few players in the state have produced as consistently at the plate or in the field as Wilson has over the past five seasons. Wilson had at least 42 hits and batted .382 or higher in each of the past five seasons and this season Wilson hit safely in 32-of-36 games while batting .449 with three home runs and 35 RBI.
Breakout star: West Branch sophomore Lanie Meyer. Last season Meyer flashed star potential during an impressive freshman campaign but this year the West Branch shortstop emerged as a full-fledged star. Meyer hit .448 with 22 extra-base hits including six home runs, scored 26 runs and drove in 36 runs.
Comeback player of the year: Liberty High senior Kennedy Daugherty. A mid-season knee injury slowed the versatile Liberty High senior but couldn’t end the season for Daugherty who came back to complete a senior season in which she hit .283 with eight extra-base hits and six RBI to go with 10 walks and 15 runs scored.
Most fun to watch: City High sophomore Lianna Hull. Whether its at the plate where Hull hit .452 with three triples and a home run, or in the field where she was prone to the spectacular play at short stops or on the bases where she swiped 17 bags Hull is high energy all the time which makes her a must watch.
Coach of the year: Regina’s Angela Kessler. Regina returned a lot from last year’s Class 2A state title team but with that came sky high expectations and the Kessler-led Regals have handled it all. The preseason top-ranked team, Regina enters the state tournament 27-8, top-ranked, top-seeded and already with the most wins for the program since 2018.
Rookie of the year: Solon eighth grader Maddyn Gates. In her varsity debut season Gates emerged as a solid option both in the Solon batting order and the pitching rotation posting a 7-5 record and a 2.30 ERA with 66 strikeouts in 82 1/3 innings while batting .264 with 13 extra-base hits and 20 RBI.
Newcomer of the year: West High junior Kendra Mescher. In what was a tough season for West High Mescher was a major bright spot leading the Trojans in batting average (.289), hits (28), runs (8), doubles (5) and ranking second on the team in RBI in her first season.
Silver slugger: Regina senior Dani Laughlin. One of the top hitters in the state this summer Laughlin was a machine at the top of the Regina batting order leading Class 2A and ranking fourth in the state with a .612 batting average. The senior centerfielder scored 44 runs, stole 32 bases drove in 17 and had an OPS of 1.376.
Gold glover: Liberty High junior Mischa Reiners. How good of a defensive catcher is Reiners? She batted .314 with 11 extra-base hits and a team-leading 40 RBI and she is just as valuable if not more valuable to the Lightning behind the plate than she is in the batters box.
Cy Young: Regina senior Ashley Webb. Last year’s winner of this award Webb was even more dominant this season than she was a year after taking over as the ace of the Regina staff. Webb went 16-6 with a 1.53 ERA and 1.05 WHIP while striking out 162 in 118 2/3 innings.
Most valuable player: Regina senior Courtney Kessler. Defending 2A champion Regina returns to the state tournament top-ranked and a favorite to repeat and its senior catcher is a big reason why. Kessler is hitting .537 and leads the team in extra-base hits (19), doubles (15), home runs (2), RBI (52) and slugging percentage .769 and is perhaps even more valuable defensively where she handles pitch calling and shuts down opposing running games as well as any catcher in 2A.
Most valuable player part II: Liberty High junior Haley Schroeder. Liberty High won 23 games and advanced to a 5A regional final and its junior shortstop was at the center of everything the Lightning accomplished this season. Schroeder hit .400 and led Liberty High in runs (55), doubles (15), home runs (6), walks (26), stolen bases (26) on-base percentage (.510), slugging percentage (.708) and OPS (1.218).