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|8/3/2013 ||Email this article Print this article |
|Thirteen Sabers named to All-WaMaC East team|
By Ross Eberhart
There was no lack of talent in the WaMaC East this summer.
The division again proved to be one of the toughest in the state in both baseball and softball.
In baseball, the WaMaC East boasted seven teams with winning records - including an amazing five squads that won at least 25 games - and had a pair of squads reach the state baseball tournament.
Additionally, the division had six softball teams with winning marks (all of whom won at least 20 games) with WaMaC East champion Solon taking sixth in class 4A.
Helping to add to the conference's prestige this summer were the Central baseball and softball teams. Both squads went 9-5 against tough competition with the baseball squad setting a new program mark with 32 victories this season, and the softball team winning its most games (25) since the state limited schools to 40 regular season games.
The Sabers' strong seasons were recognized by the conference, too, as 13 Central baseball and softball players were selected to the 2013 All-WaMaC East baseball and softball teams.
The Central boys lead the way with eight honorees, including a pair of first-team selections in senior catcher Jake Thumann and freshman utility pick T.J. Sikkema.
Four other Sabers - seniors Austin Lechtenberg and A.J. Smith, junior Emmitt Enyeart and freshman Max Steffens - were chosen for the second team, while juniors Marty Green and Grant Henning earned honorable mention accolades.
The Saber girls also had a pair of first-team selections. Senior Brooke Posey garnered one of the two pitching spots, while sophomore Kalyn Bowen was an infield pick.
Junior Katie Irwin was a utility pick on the second team with senior Morgan Oldsen and sophomore Miranda Meland obtaining honorable mention spots.
Thumann, Sikkema pace group of eight Saber boys honorees
Few teams in the state could match the one-two punch that the Sabers featured in the middle of their lineup with Thumann batting third and Sikkema hitting cleanup.
An honorable mention selection on last year's team, Thumann feasted on opposing pitching during his senior year.
The catcher hit .449 this season and finished the season with 61 hits. A WaMaC East-best 14 of those hits were doubles and Thumann also led all conference players with eight home runs.
Thumann scored 54 runs (six more than the next closest player) and also paced the WaMaC East with 41 RBIs.
"With his play at catcher and the hard work he put in in the weight room, Jake has been definitely deserving of all the postseason awards he has received - both this year and last," Central head coach Shane Sikkema said. "He's a three-year starter whose 24 career home runs and 300 total bases are school records."
No player in the WaMaC East had more hits than Sikkema, who finished tied for second in all of class 3A with 63.
The freshman also led the division with a .450 batting average, while his 38 RBIs were second only to Thumann.
Sikkema clubbed nine doubles and a triple and also scored 24 runs during the season.
"T.J. is young, but his hard work has paid off," coach Sikkema said. "If you take 400 swings four times a week in the winter, you can hit .400 with a school-record 53 singles."
The Saber did plenty of damage on the mound as well, going 6-2 in 15 appearances on the hill, while tying for the division lead with five saves.
Sikkema posted a team-best ERA of 1.31 and finished seventh among all WaMaC East pitchers with 52 strikeouts (compared to just 11 walks).
"He was defensively sound whether at first base or in the outfield and he has solid efforts pitching against some strong opponents," coach Sikkema said about the southpaw who earned a victory against state-qualifier Williamsburg.
All-conference honors are nothing new for Lechtenberg, who earned a spot on the All-WaMaC East team for the third-straight season.
The senior joined Thumann with 61 hits this season and his batting average of .401 was good for fourth among all WaMaC East players.
Lechtenberg smacked 13 doubles (second among all WaMaC East players), two triples and drove in 23 runs. The center fielder was fourth in the division with 45 runs scored and also among the leaders in both walks (15) and stolen bases (13).
"Austin played in all 43 games this year and tied with his teammates for the school record (Lechtenberg, Enyeart, Green, Sikkema, Smith and Thumann all broke the record of 42 games)," Sikkema said. "He is the career singles record holder with 153 and he was our catalyst from the lead-off position, carrying on that 'go get them' tradition as a center fielder with excellent speed."
Also back after earning all-conference honors last season is Smith, who did a little bit of everything during his senior season.
Smith started games in the infield, outfield and on the mound this summer and gave the Sabers a boost at each of the spots.
On the mound, Smith pitched a team-high 60 innings (a total that was fourth-best among all WaMaC East players) and finished with a 6-2 record, while posting an ERA of 3.38. The senior struck out 50 batters and walked just 15.
"A.J. was very deserving as he logged the most innings (on the mound) and his batting improved the entire year," Sikkema said. "He easily made the switch from first base to either third base or outfield this year with no complaints, and he put the ball in play to move runners more than his stats show."
At the plate, Smith finished the season with a .343 batting average and was eighth in the division with 47 hits, including five doubles and two triples. The senior drove in 31 runs and scored 19 more himself.
Central's leader in wins on the mound was Steffens, who had a fine freshman season for the Sabers.
The righty went 7-2 in 16 pitching appearances, tied Sikkema for the division-lead in saves with five and posted a miniscule ERA of 1.63. Steffens struck out 41 batters and walked just three (of the 13 WaMaC East pitchers with more strikeouts than Steffens, only one has fewer than 10 walks).
"Max is always around the plate when he is on the mound," Sikkema said. "He just would not walk a guy unless the zone was the size of a tea cup - which happened - but he battled against WaMaC teams that were solid including (the WaMaC West co-champion) Benton."
Steffens had 11 hits in limited at-bats and drew the very same number of walks, while driving in five runs and scoring three.
Providing another big bat in the Saber lineup was Enyeart, who was one of just six WaMaC East players to finish the year with more than 50 hits.
The junior ended his summer with 54 hits with nine of them being doubles. Enyeart hit .386 for the year and drove in 33 runs, while scoring 30 more himself. The Saber walked 13 times and stole eight bases.
Enyeart helped the Saber pitching staff as well, going 2-2 on the mound with a save. He struck out 22 batters and finished the year with an ERA of 2.88.
"Emmitt had the numbers to be (on the) first team," Sikkema said. "And he was as solid in the field, improving all season-long at shortstop.
"The hard work he put in the winter with Mark Selby paid off in his offensive stats and he will be relied on next year to be a catalyst."
The Sabers will also benefit from the return of fellow infielders Henning and Green.
No player seemed to find a gap in the outfield more than the former, who set a new school record and led the WaMaC East with six triples.
Henning added 11 doubles as well (tied for third among players in the division) and finished the year with 46 hits, while batting .383.
The junior scored 34 times and drove in 24 runs, while leading the Sabers with 17 walks.
Green hit .310 in his first full season in the Saber starting lineup. The junior finished the year with 39 hits, including two doubles and two triples, and scored 23 runs, while also racking up 19 RBIs.
The junior finished second on the team with 15 stolen bases (which tied for eighth among WaMaC East players) and went 2-1 on the mound with a 2.77 ERA and 32 strikeouts.
"Honorable mention was definitely deserving for Grant, who is a three-year starter and a season record holder with six triples, and Marty, who pitched in some bad spots at times, but also picked up some big wins, including our victory over Wahlert during the regular season," Sikkema said.
Posey, Bowen lead group of five Saber softball players honored
It proved to be a senior season to remember for Central pitcher Brooke Posey, who tormented WaMaC East foes both at the plate and on the mound this summer.
Posey set a new school record and finished second among all WaMaC East players with 170 strikeouts this season as the senior went 15-8 in 26 appearances.
The Saber walked just 34 batters and posted an ERA of 1.86.
Posey was just as tough with a bat in her hand, finishing fourth in the division with a .444 batting average, while pounding out 56 hits, including nine doubles and four home runs.
The senior drove in 28 runs, drew 10 walks and scored 12 times during her campaign.
"Brooke had a great year both pitching and hitting," Central head coach Lee Swanson said. "We asked her to play a defensive position she had never played and she accepted the challenge.
"It was nice to have her even if it was for only one year." (Posey spent the bulk of high school career playing ASA [Amateur Softball Association of America] softball during the summer)
Providing another big bat in the Saber batting order was Bowen, who was one of a dozen players in the WaMaC East to finish the season with at least 50 hits.
Bowen finished right at 50 hits and batted .370 during the season. The sophomore smacked nine doubles and clobbered a home run, while finishing the season with 26 RBIs.
The Saber first baseman scored 21 runs as well, while finishing second among all players in the division with 285 defensive put-outs and leading Central with a .986 fielding percentage.
"Kalyn went from not starting (Bowen acted as a designated hitter and pinch hitter during her freshman season) to the first team," Swanson said. "She hit around .450 in conference play and recorded her first home run ever. Defensively, she did a very nice job at first, with few errors."
Giving Central a second pitching threat was Irwin, who also provided a steady glove at shortstop when Posey took to the mound.
The junior won eight games this summer and had a save as well, while striking out 69 batters and finishing the year with a 3.35 ERA.
Batting near the top of the Saber order, Irwin often provided a spark as she finished second only to Posey with 53 hits.
Four of those hits went for triples (tops on the team) and Irwin clubbed two home runs and a double as well. The Saber led the team with 33 runs, drove in 22 more and finished tied for second on the team with 10 walks.
"Katie was an all-around team leader who did a great job pitching and playing shortstop," Swanson said. "She really started hitting the ball for power this year."
It was the third-straight year in which Irwin has been honored with a spot on the all-conference team for her play, a feat Meland can match next season.
The sophomore batted .346 this summer and finished the year with 44 hits, including a team-high 10 doubles.
Meland joined Bowen with 26 RBIs and was second only to Irwin with 28 runs scored.
"Miranda just continued what she has done for two years," Swanson said. "She had a slow start and really turned it on toward the middle of the year.
"She played in the outfield all year for the first time and continues to get better."
The Sabers return all but two players next season, but it will be tough to replace the leadership of the aforementioned Posey and Oldsen, who earned honorable mention for her play this season.
Battling an arm injury all season, Oldsen still piled up 42 hits and hit .294, while splitting time between third base and catcher.
The senior led the Sabers with 29 RBIs and scored 17 runs herself. Oldsen coaxed six walks as well and stole four bases.
"Morgan had a great year considering she was hurt all year," Swanson said. "She battled through a lot of pain and produced some big offensive numbers and timely hitting."