WAHOO- In now my second year as the sports editor at the Wahoo, Ashland and Waverly Newspapers, one thing I have come to notice is the rich softball talent that this area and in particular Saunders County has to offer. There were once again three county schools in the State Softball Tournament and one State Champion with Yutan-Mead in Class C. Wahoo and Neumann were not far off the Patriots finishing as the third rated teams in Class B and C in the Omaha World-Herald. I think it is safe to say that at least for another year Softball is King or in this case Queen of Saunders County.
Shaylynn Campbell, Yutan-Mead Sr.
For the second year in a row, Shaylynn Campbell of Yutan-Mead earns a first team selection after a dominant season on the mound. She started off the year with a 3-0 shutout of Milford and never looked back as she compiled a 27-2 record, a .750 ERA and struck out an area-best 290 batters.
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She threw six no hitters on the season and didn’t give up an earned run until the Patriots eighth game of the season against Wahoo. She pitched all five games during the State Tournament and limited Hastings St. Cecilia to just one run in a 13-1 victory that clinched the Class C State Title for Yutan-Mead.
On top of her pitching ability, Campbell was also a solid bat for the Patriots with a .378 average in 111 at-bats. She ended up scoring 15 times, had 42 hits, three stolen bases and 33 RBIs.
Campbell will continue to play softball in college at the College of St. Mary’s in Omaha.
Autumn Iversen, Wahoo Sr.
Completing the clean sweep of first team accolades in softball all four years of high school is Wahoo standout, Autumn Iversen. She was the unsung leader for a Warrior team that went the majority of the year undefeated and finished with a 29-4 mark.
She drew all the tough starts for the Wahoo on the mound and finished with a 14-3 record. She also struck out 158 batters and had a 2.25 ERA in 105 innings pitched.
Equally impressive to Iversen’s pitching ability was her monstrous bat. She unloaded 19 home runs which led the area and had 51 RBIs.
“Autumn is a very talented softball player,” Wahoo Head Coach Katrina Christen said. “She was First Team All-State Class B last season and is a USD Commit. She was intentionally walked over a dozen times this season due to her 19 home runs and only struck out five times. She also had 51 RBIs. She has broken many of our season and career records in both hitting and pitching.”
Iversen’s softball career will continue at Division I South Dakota next year.
Maycee Hays, Yutan-Mead Jr.
After a spectacular junior season, Maycee Hays earns first team honors at the catcher position. According to Yutan-Mead Head Coach Ryan Glatter she owned her position for the State Champion Patriots.
Hays was an integral part of the success of Shaylynn Campbell calling all the pitches for Yutan-Mead with little coach help, which is something that doesn’t normally happen at the high school level. She only committed two errors behind the plate and had a .992 fielding percentage.
With the bat, Hays had 46 RBIs on the year including five in a 13-1 win over Hastings St. Cecilia that clinched the State Title for the Patriots. In that game, she also had two home runs.
Her speed on the base pads was well documented this year with 10 stolen bases to go along with 38 runs scored and a .566 on base percentage.
Jaiden Swanson, Wahoo Sr.
Earning her first selection on first team all-area this season was Jaiden Swanson of Wahoo. She was the second piece of a deadly pitching force on the mound for the Warriors.
On the season, Swanson was a part of eight different shutout performances for the Wahoo. In 71 innings pitched, she had a 1.56 ERA and 110 strikeouts.
At the plate, she finished with 45 RBIs and had a .404 batting average out of the four spot. She also scored 31 times and had five home runs.
“Jaiden was very crucial in many situations this season for us on the mound,” Christen said. “She threw one perfect game, one no-hitter and also struck out 14 against Elkhorn the first time we played them. She was also very consistent for us in the four hole at the plate. She had some big hits in big games that drove in important runs for us. She even hit a home run and a double off the GI Northwest pitcher who has over 800 strikeouts and a below one ERA.”
Laycee Josoff, Yutan-Mead Sr.
Laycee Josoff was another huge piece to the fairytale season for Yutan-Mead. The senior handled the shortstop position and picked up her first selection on the all-area first team.
Glatter stated that the bigger the game, the more she impacted it. This could be seen in the Patriots 13-1 win over Hastings St. Cecilia in the Class C State Championship where she had two home runs and a grand slam on her way to driving in five runs.
For the year, Josoff finished with an amazing 1.044 slugging percentage and 43 runs batted in. She also swiped 20 bags, scored 53 times and had a .607 on base percentage.
Josoff stats in the field were equally impressive with a .891 fielding percentage and 20 putouts. In the 37 games she started, Josoff only had five errors and two double plays turned.
Sidney Smart, Wahoo Jr.
Playing some great softball for Wahoo at shortstop this season was Sidney Smart. The junior used her speed to own her position and nab first team all-area.
Defensively, Smart only committed two errors and had a .973 fielding percentage.
Her bat was sometimes even scarier than her glove, finishing with 45 RBIs and a .462 batting average in 93 at-bats. She also had seven home runs, scored 42 times and swiped 10 bases.
A similar quality that Smart shares with so many on this list is her ability to step up against the best opponents. She finished with the most runs batted in out of all the Warrior batters during the Class B State Softball Tournament with five.
“Sidney was rock solid for us all season long at shortstop,” Christen said. “She took away some base hits with her quickness to balls up the middle. She was also clutch for us at the plate in postseason play against some tough Class B competition. She only struck out three times all season.”
Avery Mayberry, Bishop Neumann Sr.
Garnering her fourth straight selection on the all-area first team for Bishop Neumann was Avery Mayberry. The senior led both vocally and with her play for a Cavalier squad that ended up going 27-7 overall after losing a big senior group from a State Title team the year before.
She led the outfield in centerfield making tough catch after tough catch. In 28 games this year she had a .909 fielding percentage and committed only two errors.
Mayberry was the best bat for the Cavaliers with a .521 batting average and 13 home runs. She also had 25 RBIs, a 1.104 slugging percentage and a .605 on base percentage to go along with six stolen bases.
In college, Mayberry will play for Division II Northwest Missouri State.
“Avery was a huge power batter for us,” Bishop Neumann Head Coach Dave Brabec said. “She is a kid who always came up clutch for us making a big catch or coming up with a big hit. Avery has had some amazing State Tournament catches and hits for us over the four years that she started for us at Bishop Neumann. She is a player that will be hard to replace both batting and running the outfield for us next fall.”
Harper Hancock, Wahoo Sr.
In three years as a starter for Wahoo, Harper Hancock has found herself in three different positions. After a stellar season behind the plate for the Warriors, the senior earned her second all area first team selection in four years.
This season at catcher, Hancock was fabulous with a .983 fielding percentage and only allowed nine balls to get past her. Her quick move to second made it difficult for anybody to steal off her.
At the plate, she drove in 20 runs and had 12 doubles to go along with one homer. Hancock’s speed allowed her to steal four bases and she had a .573 on base percentage.
“Harper has started for us the last three seasons in three different positions,” Christen said. “She is a true utility player and will play wherever her team needs her. This season she did a fabulous job behind the plate. She also was very strong in the two hole for us always finding a way to get on.”
Jill Johnson, Bishop Neumann Soph.
Coming out of nowhere to fill a much needed hole for Bishop Neumann in the outfield this season was Jill Johnson. Her great glove and bat for the Cavaliers helped her earn her first all-area first team selection.
The sophomore bashed nine home runs for the Cavaliers and had 42 runs batted in. She swiped seven bases, had a. 481 on base percentage and a .876 slugging percentage.
Against Central City in the game that got Neumann to the Semifinals of the Class C State Tournament, Johnson had five hits and three RBIs. She knocked in another three runs in the Cavaliers first round state game against the NEN Vipers.
No to be overshadowed by her bat, was Johnson’s gloved. She finished her first full year of starting in the outfield with a .966 fielding percentage, 27 putouts and only one error.
“Jill was one of the biggest surprises for us this fall,” Brabec said. “She was not only our most clutch biggest situation hitter, but she was also one of our best hitting for power. Her nine home runs, 11 doubles and two triples brought in so many runs for our team. Jill was a fighter at the plate rarely striking out. She was one of the most enjoyable players to watch all season. She really grew up over the matter of a couple of months going from being a follower to a leader by showing a great example of what to do to get better each day at practice.”
Sofia Dill, Ashland-Greenwood Fresh.
In a year where there was a lot of change for the Ashland-Greenwood Softball Team after the graduation of a large senior class, Sofia Dill stepped up for the Bluejays with her play at first base and as a starting pitcher as just a freshman. She was deeply woven in the success A-G had going 15-10 playing a tough Class B schedule.
Dill started all the toughest games for the Bluejays this year on the mound and had a 4.06 ERA with 81 strikeouts in 47 innings pitched. In the field, she only committed one error and had a .974 fielding percentage.
With her bat, Dill finished third on the team with 16 RBIs and a .397 batting average. Five of her 25 hits were doubles, one was a triple and two of them were homers.
One of the best games for the freshman came against a quality opponent in Fremont. She led the Bluejays to a 7-5 win over the Tigers with two runs batted in and then pitched four innings on the mound.
“As a freshman, Sofia pitched all of our toughest games this year,” A-G Head Coach Morgan Zahnow said. “When she wasn’t pitching she was either playing first or acting as our DP in games. She was a crucial part of our success this year.”