(click for larger version)
Sam Storms was 12-3 on the season with a staggering 1.69 ERA. Mike Ramczyk. (click for larger version)
June 11, 2013 | 05:01 PMLast week's season-ending loss from the Badger baseball team marked the final game of the 2013 high school spring Sports season.
While the memories and excitement may be over, it's important to take one last opportunity to honor the best of the best from the last two months.
It was a historic run for Badger baseball. The Big Foot/Williams Bay girls soccer pulled off its best record in school history. And the Badger and Big Foot track teams along with the Big Foot golf squad enjoyed conference glory. The list could go on and on for head-turning plays, epic performances and emotional success stories.
But only two athletes, male and female, one team and one coach can lay claim to the "Best of the Spring." These select few had seasons to remember, exhibiting superior talent, a desire to win and the unique ability to make those around them better.
Here's a look at this spring's winners:
Male Athlete of the Spring
Colton Andresen, Badger baseball
Ever since second grade, Genoa City native Andresen had envisioned a big senior year with a core group of teammates who have been there with him through thick and thin.
Andresen, a Viterbo University recruit (NAIA), saw his dreams become a reality this season. The Badgers won their first conference title since 2005 and advanced to their first sectional since 2008.
Andresen recognized the historic significance of the season after the game.
"Since my freshman year, we always knew senior year was going to be big," Andresen said. "We have a lot to hang our hats on."
Andresen was the area's best pitcher and Badger's go-to guy all season.
The southpaw recovered from arm problems during his junior year to have a career season in 2013. He was 7-2 with a 1.77 ERA. Andresen struck out 54 batters in 59 1/3 innings.
In Southern Lakes Conference play, Andresen was even better, going 6-1 with a 1.24 ERA.
Andresen was a first team all-SLC selection at pitcher.
When the Badgers needed him most, Andresen was at his best. He went the distance in Badger's 3-2 playoff victory over Burlington and allowed only one earned run. Then, in a sectional loss against Bradford, Andresen held a potent offense to three runs and struck out five.
Andresen beat conference co-champion Union Grove, and on May 21, he gave up one hit in 2 2/3 innings of relief to pick up the win and help Badger clinch a share of the conference title.
At the plate, Andresen was no slouch. He hit .316 and had a .458 on-base percentage. Also, he totaled 10 RBIs.
Badger coach Aaron Zweifel said any college team would be lucky to have Andresen on the mound next season. Andresen can't wait to keep playing the game he loves, but he will never forget Badger.
"It's been a pleasure to be around my teammates for four years," he said. "It's been special. I'm proud of them, and I'm glad I got to be a part of it."
Female Athlete of the Spring
Sam Storms, Williams Bay softball
Having signed her national letter of intent to play Division I college softball before the season, Bay senior Sam Storms could've slacked during her senior year with the Lady Bulldogs.
Thanks to her club team and private lessons, she probably didn't even have to play at all.
But Storms wanted to have fun this spring, and she wanted to win with her teammates.
A leader both on and off the field who wasn't afraid to display tough love to a teammate, Storms helped lead the Lady Bulldogs to a 14-3 record and a second-place finish in the Trailways South behind state power Horicon.
Storms, a power pitcher who has been striking out batters with ease ever since her freshman year, was undoubtedly the best softball player in the area this spring.
A first team all-Trailways Conference pick, Storms went 12-3 on the mound with a 1.69 ERA. She struck out 121 batters in 95 innings and walked only 21. She tossed two one-hitters this season and struck out 10 or more batters five times.
Storms fired a shutout in a 5-0 playoff victory and allowed only two hits in a 2-0 playoff loss to end the season.
At the plate, Storms raked at an impressive .564 clip, totaling 26 RBIs and 18 extra-base hits.
For her career, Storms put up staggering numbers: 130 hits, 41 doubles, nine triples, nine home runs, 97 RBIs, a .533 batting average, 42 wins pitching and 620 strikeouts.
Storms will take her talents to Division I St. Peters in New Jersey this fall.
Team of the Spring
Big Foot/Williams Bay girls soccer
Week after week, opponents gave it their best shot against the Lady Chief Dogs.
And week after week, they fell at the feet of Walworth's finest.
The Big Foot/Williams Bay girls soccer pulled off something only the Faith Christian boys basketball team has in recent years — an undefeated regular season.
Forget school size, division or the sport. Being pretty much perfect for an entire season is an amazing accomplishment at any level. Though Big Foot did have a tie to start the season, they proceeded to reel off 15 straight victories and finish the regular season 15-0-1, easily capturing the Rock Valley Conference title in the process.
Going undefeated takes talent, but a consistent focus and determination to win must also be present. Big Foot displayed all of these attributes despite losing their leading scorer, the conference player of the year and starting goalie to graduation the previous year.
The Lady Chief Dogs did it with youth, as there were only three seniors and many of the key contributors were freshmen and sophomores.
The team featured a plethora of all-conference players, with Morgan Courier, Schyler Isham, Maggie Kivlin, Molly Kovarik and Kathryn Colby on the firs team; Mari Hubanks and Natalie Boldger on the second team and Ally Mazur and Alisa Freytag earning honorable mention.
The good news is that seven of those nine all-conference girls will be back for next season, so expect the success to continue in 2014.
Coach Annie Isham joked after her team's playoff loss that the soccer team is now up there with the Chiefs football team. With this developing crop of young talent, she may not be too far off.
Coach of the Spring
AJ Curtis, Badger boys track
Oh, what a difference a year made for the Badger boys track team this season.
After finishing in fourth place in conference last season and having no state qualifiers, the boys came out of nowhere to win conference this season and have a solid state presence.
AJ Curtis, in only his third season, turned things around from last year. Along with a conference title, the Badger boys won the conference relays meet.
"It was an incredible season," Curtis said. "Our team made great strides, and we achieved our goals of getting the conference relays championship and the conference championship. I am extremely proud of the strides we made this year and how far our team has come."
At conference, it was the team's depth that led to a narrow victory. Of the 32 events, 31 scored. Badger only had two conference champions, Alex Martinez in the 3,200 run and Sam Lasch in the long jump.
At state, Martinez broke the school record in the 3,200 run.
The team's other state qualifier was the 400 relay team of Connor Kotula, Mike Mann, Andrew Allen and Nick Hall.
2013 Regional News All-Area Baseball Team
P: Colton Andresen, sr., Badger. 7-2, 1.77 ERA
C: Peter Krien, sr., Badger, .391 BA, .456 OBP
1B: Jonah Zeinert, sr., Badger, .271 BA, 14 RBIs
2B: Carter Hehr, sr., Big Foot, .465, 33 H, 2 HR, 18 RBIs, 16 SB
3B: Mitch Jensen, sr., Badger, .343, 19 RBIs
SS: Eric Skipper, sr., Badger, .339, 6 SB
OF: Alex Landers, soph., Big Foot, .373, 18 RBIs, 2 HR, 10 SB
OF: Travis Stahulak, sr., Badger, 4-2, 0.81 ERA, 64 K, 34 2/3 IP
OF: Derek Denecke, jr., Badger, .409 BA, .458 OBP
Player of the year: Andresen
Jake Sutter, sr., Williams Bay, 3-2, 3.76 ERA
Michael Guss, fr., Williams Bay, .314 BA
Ian Weber, sr., Badger, .267
Trent Bobula, sr., Badger, .264
Brian Wolski, jr., Big Foot, .286, 22 H
Zak Greco, fr., Big Foot, .292, .541 OBP
Austin Hoey, jr., Big Foot, 7-4, 1.92 ERA, .275 BA