SOLON– After at least five years of Solon softball, this summer will be the last one for six Spartan seniors playing in their final season together.
In fact, some of the recently-graduated Spartans will become opponents next year at the college level.
“It’s going to be weird playing against each other,” catcher Hannah Turkal said.
Turkal will play for University of Wisconsin-Platteville. Others will attend schools around Iowa, with one at Minnesota State.
The recent grads are still adjusting to post-graduation and shortstop Melanie Breza called their brief period of life after high school weird as well.
What’s not weird?
The Lady Spartans’ chances this year.
On paper, the team looks very good. They return nine starters and began the season with a 14-1 win over Mid-Prairie and an 8-0 win over Davenport Assumption.
Last year’s Spartan softball team was 19-2 in conference play.
Their strong pitching staff includes senior aces Arran Weeces and Casey Musgrave. Weeces threw a few no-hitters last year, started 19 games and recorded 15 wins. She threw nearly two strikeouts per inning last season with an ERA of 0.73.
Some of the senior girls said they’d been playing since second or third grade and more than a few nicknames have come and gone for these girls.
They said second-year Coach Ben Sorden has multiple monikers he uses for giving a shout out to players.
“Jade-meister,” “Train,” “Breezy,” “Dutch,” “12-pack” and “Skee” are among some of the names he’s bestowed upon them.
But does this upper class set rule the roost, er, dugout?
Not according to “A-Train” Weeces. “We’re a team. We all get along so well, even with JV and eighth grade,” she said.
She predicted the Lady Spartans would pick it up where they left off last year, a strong finish with a return to the state tournament.
Coach Sorden said if his team can stay healthy they should have some fun this summer.
Their biggest challenge this year will be Clear Creek Amana. Sorden called the Clipper team strong and well-coached.
The Spartans will host CCA, last year’s state champs, on June 27 and will also play some 4A schools in non-conference games.
On May 23, Solon faced Davenport Assumption in its home opener.
Kara Misel hit an RBI double in the first inning and the Spartans never looked back. Weeces recorded 12 strikeouts. She struck out the side in the fourth inning but then gave up her first hit of the night in the fifth.
Shortstop Melanie “Dutch” Breza went 3-4 and had two RBIs in the contest. Emily Bransky scored three times, and Misel crossed the plate twice. Solon won easily, 8-0.
The Lady Spartans followed with a sweep of Benton Community Thursday, May 24, in Van Horne. Weeces struck out 10 and allowed one hit in a 5-1 win, while Musgrave scattered three hits over four innings in a 13-1 romp.