All-Conference players for the Saints from left to right: 1st team Jadyn Anderson, 3rd team Tanyon Schutjer and Hali Anderson, and Honorable Mention Sam Hemann. Not pictured: 2nd team Lily Walk. Submitted photo.
Saints Softball Wins 20+ Games, Reach Regional Finals in Successful Season
The St. Ansgar Saints Softball team had a great season this year despite not having any seniors on the team. The juniors and some of the underclassmen stepped up in the senior absence and provided leadership throughout the season, which led the Saints to a 21-14 record with a 11-6 record against Top of Iowa Conference opponents. The team improved tremendously in the span of a year, with a record of 14-25 last season.
St. Ansgar had five stand out players this season that earned all-conference nods due to their success on the field this season, and the five players also did a great job stepping into leadership roles for the Saints.
Jadyn Anderson was a 1st Team All-Conference selection. Anderson was tied for the lead in hits for the Saints with her sister Hali. The Anderson girls had 38 hits a piece this season. Jadyn added ten doubles, two triples, and four Home runs. She had a batting average of .358 for the season and added a team high 36 RBI’s. Anderson was also a All-District selection and a 3rd team all-state selection for the Saints. Lily Walk was a 2nd Team All-Conference selection for the Saints. Walk led the pitching crew this season, posting a record of 19-12 while on the mound. In 186 innings pitched, Walk stuck out 169 batters while posting an ERA of 4.14. She also did a nice job batting this year, finishing with 27 hits. Tanyon Schutjer was selected to the All-Conference 3rd Team. Schutjer was solid for the Saints, finishing with 25 hits with 11 RBI’s. Schutjer played first base this season and did a great job fielding throughout the year, leading the team in fielding percentage at .991%. Hali Anderson was also a All-Conference selection to the 3rd team. She was tied with her sister for a team leading 38 hits. She added 10 doubles, 3 triples and 20 RBI’s. Anderson had a batting average of .355. Sam Hemann was an Honorable Mention selection to the TIC All-Conference teams. Hemann had 25 hits this year. She added 3 doubles, 2 triples and 15 RBI’s. She had a batting average of .253.
St. Ansgar battled their way through the regional playoffs, defeating Eagle Grove in the second round in Manly and Emmetsburg in the third round in their territory. St. Ansgar defeated Eagle Grove 6-0 and Emmetsburg 5-1, leading them to the regional final game against the Central Springs Panthers in Manly.
The Saints had their work cut out for them as the Panthers had made the state tournament the previous three seasons. St. Ansgar gave the Panthers their best shot and battled throughout the game, but couldn’t keep pace, falling 15-5.
After the loss, coach Lance Schutjer talked about his time with the team this season.
“I hope making this regional final game and playing the way we did shows the kids that they are a great team,” said coach Schutjer. “We knew it as a coaching staff but they needed to see it themselves. I hope it motivates kids to put in some work in the offseason and the fall and spring league we do and want to get better and strive to get to that next level. Look at the celebration that Central Springs had after our game. We want that! I want to be able to share the experience that we had in 2014 when we made the state tournament with this team. They deserve it and we hope to get there next season.”
The nice thing about the Saints having a younger group of players is that they had some solid experience this season and have the chance to be back next year as a whole. Having a 21 win season and reaching the regional finals without seniors is impressive, and there will be some high expectations from this team next year.
“We had a 21 win season and to win 20 in any season is a great year for any team,” said coach Schutjer. “Everybody on the team should keep their heads up because there were a lot of great things that happened with our softball team this year.”
At the season ending banquet on Sunday night, other awards were announced as well. The team as a while had a grade point average of 3.65, earning themselves the Distinguished Academic Achievement Award. For the coaches awards, Lily Walk was voted the MVP/Leader of the team. Jadyn Anderson and Molly Jenkins were the recipients of the Golden Glove Award. Rookie of the year went to Abby Hemann and Hali Anderson and the Spirit Award went to Blayne Koster. The team Role Models were Sam Hemann and Tanyon Schutjer and the Most Improved went to Lauren Bork.