The Albion X-treme 16 & under softball team highlighted an impressive summer by placing third in the state softball tournament at Hastings July 17-19.
After three victories to open the tourney, the X-treme dropped a heartbreaker to Clatonia in a game that would have advanced them to the championship round, then lost a decision to Ponca to finish third.
Although ending the season with a loss, the entire 2009 season was a victory for the X-treme players, according to Coach Paul Atwood.
“I am so proud of these girls and what they accomplished,” Atwood praised. “Every single girl on this team has ‘hustle’ for a middle name.
“Everywhere we played this summer, I had fans, coaches and officials praise our girls and their effort. People commented on what a fantastic team we had and said they always came over to watch us play when they had a chance.
“It stings a little to have the 3 on our trophy, rather than the 1 or 2, but I’m very proud of what we did and of placing third in the state,” Atwood added. “I also want to thank our other coaches, Thomas Wells and Scott Stuhlmiller. I really appreciated their efforts this season.”
Since Albion finished with one of the best records in its league (6-3), Atwood earned the honor of coaching in the League All-Star Game at Pierce Tuesday. Four X-treme players – Marissa Koch, Savannah Baker, Kenzie Pelster and Paige Seier – participated in the contest.
“Everyone on our team desrved to go, but i felt it was appropriate to pick our four seniors,” Atwood noted. “They were really the leaders for us this summer.”
Albion opened the 2009 state tournament with a convincing 13-5 victory over Lawrence Friday, July 17. The X-treme got off to a quick start as Koch and Baker each singled and scored in the first inning. Koch rapped a two-run single and Shanel Atwood added an RBI base hit as Albion took a 5-0 lead in the second.
Lawrence scored four in the third to close the gap to two, 6-4, but the X-treme responded with its own four-run fourth, Sara Wells hitting a key two-run single. Brooke Michael handled pitching duties, earning the victory.
The X-treme used a late rally to defeat Val Sizzle 10-2 in the second round. Trailing 1-0, Albion crossed home plate 10 times in the fourth inning to earn the win. Koch, Baker and Atwood all had run-scoring hits in the frame and Maria Glidden kocked in two with a double. Katie Zaruba was the winning pitcher, allowing just single runs in the first and fifth innings.
The X-treme advanced to the tournament semi-finals with a hard-fought 8-5 decision over Pender Saturday.
Both teams scored three first-inning runs and Albion took a 4-3 edge in the third when Gina Nelson walked, stole second and scored on Glidden’s sacrifice. Albion added four runs in the fourth with Baker, Atwood and Emily Carder driving in runs, then held off a Pender rally in the top of the fifth. Michael was again the winning pitcher.
One big blow spelled doom for the X-treme in their semi-final match-up against Clatonia. With a tight contest tied at 2-2 in the fifth, Clatonia loaded the bases and clean-up hitter Cerveny slammed a rare over-the-fence grand slam home run to key a 7-2 victory.
Albion was unable to bounce back from that disappointment and dropped an 11-3 decision to Ponca in the following elimination game despite taking a 2-1 first-inning lead on runs by Seier and Baker. Ponca took advantage of three Albion errors, along with a key double to break the game open with seven runs in the third inning.