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STC softball closes season to Solon, say good luck to Seniors

July 20, 2018
By Allison Graham - Sports Editor ( , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Although we've come to the end of the road, it is natural to have mixed emotions. As one senior Trojan said, the close of the 2018 season was bittersweet.

"I think it's bittersweet. It's going to be nice having a summer in the future but it's my last time being a Trojan, my last at bat, my last time taking off my jersey, all of those final things," said Saylor Upah.

The Trojans officially hung up their jerseys as their season came to an end in Solon on Tuesday, July 3. South Tama was paired with the Solon Spartans for the first round of Regionals. Solon topped STC 9-0. Kayla West got the win for Solon behind a two-hit, 11 strikeout performance. Ashlynn Ellenbecker took the loss for the Trojans.

Article Photos

STC seniors Saylor Upah, Kenze Smith and Abbie Parizek were recognized at Senior night on Wednesday, June 27.
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The Solon girls came into the evening ranked 10th in Class 3A with a record of 25-8. Solon has a long history of strong softball programs. The Spartans have made appearances in the Girls State Softball 10 times in the past 20 years. They have two state titles (2003 and 2007) and four runner-up finishes (2005, 2006, 2008, 2012) among their appearances.

The Spartans are coached by Erin White, who is no stranger to the Solon softball program. She coached the Spartans from 2007-2010 and won a state championship in her first season. This year, she's come back for her second round as the varsity head coach, taking over for her husband, Jim, who resigned in September after five seasons.

South Tama and Solon met earlier in the season. The contest didn't go well for the Trojans. Game one resulted in a 13-0 loss for the Trojans in 4 innings and 15-1 loss in game two in three innings.

The Trojans brushed those losses off and approached Monday's matchup as a much stronger team. STC closed the evening making it through seven innings while recording two hits, one by Abbie Parizek and the other by Dalaynee Henle.

"I'm really proud of our girls and how much they've grown this season," said Coach Chelsea Ahrens, "We played Solon back in the beginning of June and we are a different team now. We've gotten better every single night and we've proved that. The first game against these guys was over in two innings. I'm really proud of our effort and even though we still didn't play the best defense, that didn't kill us tonight. We aren't going to win a game if we don't score any runs and only had two hits. Even if we played flawless defense we still wouldn't have won because we didn't put the ball in play. We had quite a few strikeouts which I wasn't really expecting. Last time we faced (Kayla) West we made better contact. But I'm just really pleased with our attitudes throughout the season. This is a continuing thing. It takes a lot of heart to continue to come to softball every day even though you may stand a chance of losing. So I give credit to these girls with how hard they worked. I hope we can continue to work in the off season so we can make some strides going forward.

Looking toward the future, one of the bright spots for the Trojans is the development of their young freshman, Ellenbecker. Despite being a freshman, she has compiled a vast wealth of varsity experience, starting 40 varsity games between her 8th grade and freshman seasons. Ellenbecker has not only shown improvement throughout the season but also has improved from last year, lowering her ERA by over one run and increasing her total strikeouts by 15.

"Last year Ashlynn's ERA was around 7 and now this year it's around 5 so think about next year if we can bring that around 3 that's going to be a great improvement and help our team out so much," said Ahrens.

As this season ends the Trojans will say goodbye to three seniors. Saylor Upah, Kenze Smith and Abbie Parizek will each be departing from the Trojan team as they head to college in the fall.

"It's our last time being a Trojan so it's our last goodbye. This feels a lot different compared to the rest of the seasons. I think it will make an impact on us when we don't have to go to softball everyday," said Kenze Smith.

"I think the thing that struck me the most is shouting 'Trojans' when we broke down our huddle tonight. It's the last time I'm ever going to shout that with my team and time really does go by so fast. I feel like I blinked and I'm done being a Trojan," said Parizek.

The girls will remember their Lake Rathbun trips for many years to come as some of their favorite moments together. They will also miss the camaraderie with their teammates and their coach whom Parizek said was a great coach.

The Trojans finished the season 3-25 but for Ahrens the future looks bright. "We're young. We have a young starting pitcher, freshman catcher, freshman center fielder, sophomore third baseman. It's a young core there and if they continue to work at it, good things will happen by the time they are juniors and seniors.



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