Nickerson, Bix join Greiner, Huisinga on CIML Metro's all-conference first team

Ottumwa's Kacy Nickerson (left) and Kaylee Bix (right), seen here heading off Kruger Seeds Field during Class 5A state tournament action against Waukee in the Class 5A state softball tounament at Harlan Rogers Park in Fort Dodge, joined teammates Morgan Greiner and Hannah Huisinga as first-team CIML All-Metro conference honorees.

OTTUMWA — Kacy Nickerson and C.J. Banner both pitched their teams to a share of the CIML Metro conference softball title in 2019.

Fittingly, both pitchers were the only two unanimous selections to the first team of the 2019 CIML All-Metro conference squad. Nickerson was one of four Ottumwa players named first-team All-Metro with four more Bulldog teammates earning second-team all-conference honors.

Nickerson, also named to the Class 5A West all-district team by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association last week, finished her junior season in the pitching circle leading the Bulldogs with a 17-5 record and a 2.35 ERA. Nickerson recorded 184 strikeouts, moving over 600 strikeouts in her career, while issuing just 34 walks.

Morgan Greiner and Kaylee Bix doing Des Moines East senior Josie Lucas and Des Moines Hoover senior Abby Nolte as the four first-team All-Metro infielders selected by the conference. Greiner and Bix shared the Ottumwa team lead this season in home runs with nine each. Bix had a team-leading 40 runs driven in while Greiner drove in 34 runs. The two started together on the left side of the Ottumwa infield (Greiner at third and Bix at shortstop) throughout the first 33 games of the season before a torn ACL and meniscus ended Greiner's season against Johnston in the final game of the 2019 Ottumwa Classic on July 6.

Hannah Huisinga was also named to the CIML All-Metro first team, joining Des Moines East teammates Keiana Giboo and Marisa Anderson in the outfield. Huisinga, Ottumwa's everyday starting center fielder, saved some of her best play for the end of the season most notably driving in four runs on four hits including a game-tying solo home run and an extra-inning two-run double that helped the Bulldogs clinch a 12-9 win at Muscatine that provided head coach Frank Huston with his 28th and final trip to the state softball tournament.

The All-CIML Metro second team including Ottumwa junior pitcher Ashton Brown, senior second baseman Abby Bowers, junior first baseman Jillian Heaton and sophomore right fielder Zoey Jones. Brown finished 14-4 in the pitching circle this season for Ottumwa, making 19 appearances while recording a 2.30 ERA pitching 103 2/3 innings allowing 42 runs on 90 hits and 40 walks while racking up 125 strikeouts this season.

Bowers and Heaton started on the right side of the Ottumwa infield throughout the 33-9 season. Bowers finished third behind Nickerson (57) and Bix (52) with 49 hits this season, batting .402 with a .421 on-base percentage, while Heaton hammered seven home runs out her 43 hits, matching Greiner for the second-most runs driven in on the team with 34.

Jones, who also spent part of the season catching for Brown, joined Heaton, Nickerson and Bix as the only Ottumwa players to start in 40 out of 40 games played this season (Ottumwa's second doubleheader with Des Moines North was cancelled due to a lack of North players). Jones had 36 hits, scored 25 runs and drove in 22 more for the Bulldogs at the plate.

Freshman catcher Amber Shotts and sophomore Josie Lemonds, who started most of the season as a designated player before taking over at third for Greiner to close out the season, were honorable mention all-conference selections. Ottumwa shared the CIML Metro with Des Moines East, finishing 16-4 with four-game season splits against East and Des Moines Hoover.

— Scott Jackson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.