This year's All-Courier softball team is as much a glimpse into the future as it is a look at the present.
The 11-player team consists of just four upperclassmen, meaning the future is bright for the coming seasons. Also, nine of the players earned all-state honors by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association.
Indeed, some strong players were left off the team and the crop of players was as deep as it's been in a while.
This year's team boasts nine players who managed to help their team reach at least the regional final, and one team that qualified for the state tournament.
As far as the top honors, Albia High School's Hannah Isley earned player of the year honors after a big season from the leadoff spot. The first-team all-state player by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association was one of Class 2A's top hitters, hitting seven home runs and driving in 44 runs, while also batting .467.
EBF coach Tony Fenton was selected coach of the year after leading the Rockets within one win of the state tournament for the season year in a row, while playing in a higher class. The Rockets won 30 games, a feat matched only by Albia in the area this season, despite graduating seven players from their team last season.
This year's All-Courier softball team:
Jena Lawrence, Albia, Soph.
Lawrence, a second-team all-state selection by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association, had a strong sophomore campaign for the Lady Dees. She finished 24-3 with a 0.85 ERA and 207 strikeouts against just 41 walks. She was part of an all-state battery that led Albia to the Class 3A state tournament for the second year in a row.
Randie Richmond, EBF, Sr.
The Rockets right-hander, a first-team all-state selection by the IGCA, capped her career in an EBF uniform in style, winning 19 games and sporting a 2.35 ERA in the circle. She was the pitcher on last year's state runner-up team, and EBF finished one win from returning to state despite losing seven seniors from the previous season.
Kacy Nickerson, Ottumwa, Soph.
Nickerson earned second-team all-state honors in Class 5A, going 15-8 with a 1.85 ERA and 173 strikeouts against 28 walks. The sophomore pitched well in big games, shutting a top-five Dubuque Hempstead team and winning a 1-0 contest in the regional semifinal against Southeast Polk.
Alex Beard, Albia, Soph.
Beard was a force both at the plate and behind it for the Lady Dees. The first-team all-state selection threw out 11 baserunners and made just one error in 322 chances this season. Offensively, Beard hit .467 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs, while leading the team with 57 hits.
Morgan Greiner, Ottumwa, Jr.
Greiner created plenty of offense for the Bulldogs out of the No. 2 hole, earning first-team all-state honors for her bat as well as the glove. She made just four errors at third base this season, and hit .466 with seven home runs and 32 RBIs for the Bulldogs, who came up an extra-inning victory short of reaching the state tournament.
Hannah Isley, Albia, Sr.
Isley was as powerful at it gets out of the leadoff spot this season for the Lady Dees. The first-team all-stater hit a robust .467 with seven home runs and 44 RBIs, a big accomplishment considering she drove in runners at the bottom of Albia's lineup. Isley also scored 54 runs and made just four errors playing second base most of the season.
Ashtyn Drish, Fairfield, Sr.
The Trojans' shortstop was a big part of an 18-24 team that made an spirited run to the Class 4A regional final before losing to Newton. Drish was a third-team all-state selection, as she hit .368 with a home run and 26 RBIs. She led Fairfield with 49 hits, and her lone home run came in the setback at Newton.
Jillian Heaton, Ottumwa, Soph.
Heaton displayed plenty of pop for the Bulldogs this season, and many of her eight home runs were dramatic. Heaton hit eight homers and drove in a team-high 42 runs, while batting .405. Two of her home runs and eight RBIs came in one game against Mount Pleasant, and her solo homer was the only run in a win over Southeast Polk in a regional semifinal.
Reina Taylor, EBF, Jr.
Taylor, the Rockets' leadoff hitter, hit .341 with four home runs and drove in 26 runs during a second-team all-state season. The center fielder made just one error on the season, and could be the heir apparent to Richmond in the pitcher's circle next season, as Taylor was 11-1 with a 1.54 ERA
Zoey Wright, Pekin, Jr.
Wright was a sure-handed outfielder and strong hitter for the Panthers this season. The junior hit .452 with a home run and 20 RBI, and led the Panthers with 10 extra-base hits. She also stole 27 of 29 bases and scored a team-high 31 runs. In the field, she made just three errors.
Hannah Heiserman, Van Buren, Sr.
Heiserman was selected honorable mention all-state in Class 2A, as she led the Warriors in hitting at .420 with 20 RBIs. She also had a team-leading 37 hits. As the Warriors' left fielder, Heiserman made just five errors.
COACH OF THE YEAR
Tony Fenton, EBF
Fenton got a lot of mileage out of team that lost seven starters from a state runner-up team in Class 2A last year. The Rockets had some key pieces in place, but also had to integrate younger players into big roles. What transpired was a 30-8 season and a trip to the regional final in Class 3A. The Rockets played in several close games all season, and split with South Central Conference foe Albia, which qualified for the state tournament.
Chad Drury can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter @ChadDrury
2018 ALL-COURIER SOFTBALL
Pitchers — Jena Lawrence, Albia, Soph.; Randie Richmond, EBF, Sr.; Kacy Nickerson, Ottumwa, Soph.
Catcher — Alex Beard, Albia, Soph.
Infielders — Morgan Greiner, Ottumwa, Jr.; Hannah Isley, Albia, Sr.; Ashtyn Drish, Fairfield, Sr.; Jillian Heaton, Ottumwa, Soph.
Outfielders — Reina Taylor, EBF, Jr.; Zoey Wright, Pekin, Jr.; Hannah Heiserman, Van Buren, Sr.
Player of the year — Hannah Isley, Albia
Coach of the year — Tony Fenton, EBF
Albia — Kennedy Schroeder
Cardinal — Alexia McClure, Kassidy Verrips
Davis County — Bailea Yahnke
EBF — Lexi Taylor
Fairfield — Allison Rebling, Shaylin Drish
Ottumwa — Kaylee Bix, Hannah Huisinga
Pekin — Ellie Ledger
Van Buren — Lexi Jirak, Selena Sayre