Washington Evening Journal
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Washington, IA 52353
It was a wild year in softball in Southeast Iowa. From day-to-day there was no telling who the top team in the area was as a handful of area squads showed they were good enough to make a run at the state tournament.
After a crazy postseason that saw Highland knock off Winfield-Mount Union in a thriller and Cardinal upset Van Buren County, both the Huskies and the Comets advanced to the regional final.
Unfortunately, nobody’s season end on Fort Dodge.
The balance this season made the All-Union small school softball teams extremely hard to pick. After a lengthy debate on captain, coach and the remaining spots, a team was finally settled on.
The 2021 small school softball team is coached by Highland’s Carrie Wieland, captained by Van Buren County’s Chelsey Huff, and led by a trio of Winfield-Mount Union Wolves.
Without further ado, here is the small school squad, as chosen by sports editors Doug Brenneman and Andy Krutsinger.
COACH: Carrie Wieland, Highland
The Highland softball team had a tough job in 2021. Southeast Iowa Super Conference North Division teams Louisa-Muscatine and WMU were hitting their peak and a young Huskies team had to grow up fast to compete at the top.
Highland had just two seniors on the roster, but Wieland’s bunch held their composure better than anybody. Highland finished the regular season 22-7 overall and 11-4 in the North, which placed them in a tie for third place.
Wieland’s team won five games leading up to the postseason. In the tournament, the Huskies knocked off Lone Tree 5-0, avenging a postseason loss from last year, and won a thrilling 1-0 game against WMU in 14 innings to earn a regional final berth.
Highland fell 8-6 to Lisbon in the Class 1A Region 8 final, but with a lot of talent coming back, the Huskies set themselves up for a big run again next season.
CAPTAIN: Chelsey Huff, senior, Van Buren County
Van Buren’s senior leader finished her storied career with a fantastic final season. Whether it’s in the pitcher’s circle or at the plate, Huff was huge for the Warriors all year long.
The Warriors’ ace went 14-5 this season with a 1.16 ERA. She struck out 165 opponents, which set a Van Buren County school record.
Huff was lethal at the plate in 2021. She hit a team-best .506 with 16 doubles, five home runs and 36 RBIs.
Huff holds a laundry load of school records after her senior campaign. Among those broken in 2021 were strikeouts in a season, strikeouts in a game and home runs in a season.
Pitcher: Madie Anderson, senior, Winfield-Mount Union
It doesn’t get much better in the pitcher’s circle than WMU’s ace.
Anderson was the only person to throw a pitch for the Wolves all year, and she was as dominant as can be.
The Wolves’ senior finished the season with a 17-6 record. She struck out 305 batters compared to just 22 walks and went out with an ERA of 0.58.
Anderson was one of the top WMU batters. She hit .344 this season with seven doubles and 12 RBIs.
Pitcher: Grace Batcheller, junior, Highland
Both Batcheller and teammate Jessica Kraus had great seasons in the circle this year, but Batcheller gets the nod after going 16-5 to lead the Huskies.
Batcheller struck out 105 batters this season and walked just 12. She ended the season with a 2.27 ERA.
Batcheller was also one of the Huskies’ best bats. She hit .313 with six doubles, one triple, one home run and 21 RBIs.
Catcher: Anna Anderson, sophomore, Winfield-Mount Union
The leading hitter this year for WMU was its sophomore behind the plate. Anderson hit .471 this season with nine doubles, one triple, one home run and 16 RBIs, which ed the team.
Anderson also led the team with 16 walks, a .571 on base percentage and a .676 slugging percentage. Defensively, she ended the 2021 campaign with a .993 fielding percentage as the Wolves’ catcher.
Infielder: Lily Coil, eighth grade, Columbus
There is a budding star for the Columbus Wildcats, and she made her presence known in 2021.
Coli stepped up to the high school level and succeeded right away, leading the Wildcats in most offensive categories.
In her first year at the varsity level, Coil hit .462 with 11 doubles, four triples and 14 RBIs.
Coil was the top pitcher for the Wildcats. She finished the year 5-7 with a 2.66 ERA and 94 strikeouts.
Infielder: Emma Becker, freshman, Cardinal
A young Cardinal squad made big jumps this season, making a Class 2A regional final. The Comets’ freshman shortstop was a major reason why.
Becker was the only everyday Comet to hit over .400, finishing the season with a .412 batting average. She led the team with nine doubles and 32 runs scored. She ended the year with 12 RBIs.
Becker was a menace on the bases. The speedy ninth-grader attempted 21 stolen bases this year and was safe in every single attempt.
Infielder: Allison Bainbridge, senior, Pekin
Though she played in just 16 games this season, Bainbridge was clutch in her senior year for the Panthers.
The Pekin senior hit a team-high .442, the only Panther hitter to bat over .400. She led the team with nine doubles, led the squad with two triples and knocked in seven runs on the year.
Infielder: Sarah Burton, freshman, Highland
The youth movement continues with Highland’s leadoff hitter. Burton, a freshman, hit .411 this season, the best hitter on the team by over 50 points.
Burton was one of two Huskies with double-digit doubles, totaling 10 on the year. She had one triple and 11 RBIs.
Burton was fantastic on the bases, scoring a team-leading 40 runs and stealing 29 bases on 31 attempts.
Outfielder: Ivy Davidson, freshman, Van Buren County
Another freshman makes her way on to the All-Union list, and this one comes out of Van Buren’s outfield.
Davidson hit .383 this season, third-best out of the starting lineup, but it was what she did in clutch situations that helped her make her way to the squad.
Davidson capitalized with runners on all season. She knocked in 28 runs, one of just two Warriors with more than 15 RBIs on the year. She hit eight doubles and one home run.
Outfielder: Kinsey Hissem, sophomore, Cardinal
The Comets had one of the best outfields around in 2021, and their sophomore in left field was a major reason why.
Hissem hit .370 for the Comets this year and finished the season with three doubles and one home run. She accounted for 25 RBIs, which was best on the team.
Outfield: Madeline Fox, Hillcrest Academy
Even in a rough year record wise, Hillcrest’s Madeline Fox made herself known.
The Raven outfielder hit .415 this season. She hit a team-high four doubles and finished the year with one triple and six RBIs.
Fox had a limited time to collect stats this season, getting just 53 at-bats. She drew 10 walks on the year, twice as much as any other Hillcest hitter.
Utility: Jobey Malone, junior, Winfield-Mount Union
The middle of the WMU lineup was scary this season and not many batters were harder to contain than first baseman Malone.
The Wolves’ junior hit a red-hot .446 this season. She led the team with two home runs and 16 RBIs, and also finished the year with six doubles.
Utility: Dakota Mitchell, eighth grade, Mid-Prairie
The Golden Hawks didn’t win a ton of games this season but they did show a promising future with some young standouts. None of them was as impressive as Mitchell, who burst onto the scene as an eighth-grader.
Mitchell hit .381, best on the Golden Hawks team. She slugged four doubles and three triples and knocked in 22 runs.
Mitchell was patient at the plate, walking a team-high 14 times this season. When she was on base, Mitchell was deadly, stealing 23 bases in 25 attempts.