Kee softball team wins second consecutive UIC crown during 29-11 campaign

by Val Meyer

The Kee High softball team finished the summer with 29 wins and 11 losses, ending up just shy of every team’s ultimate goal and the Hawks’ own repeat goal of a trip to the State Tournament to try and build on last season’s Class 1A State Tournament Runner-up finish. But, just like last summer’s late-season run, it also took one of the best programs in the state to end this season’s quest, as seventh-rated Bellevue Marquette escaped with a 2-1 victory in the final inning of their Class 1A Region 3 championship game.
That Kee defeat allowed Bellevue Marquette to advance to the Class 1A State Tournament for the third time in the last four seasons, where the Mohawks eventually finished seventh in that Class 1A eight-team field after falling to eventual Class 1A State Champion AGWSR in the season grand finale’s opening round. Ironically, Bellevue Marquette and AGWSR were the only Class 1A teams to beat Kee this season, as the Hawks had also battled this season’s eventual state champions to a 4-1 loss at the North Fayette Valley Tournament in June, AGWSR being one of the highly-rated teams Kee defeated during last season’s State Tournament run.
Prior to that season-ending loss to Bellevue Marquette, Kee had won 17 straight games, including the final 15 games of the Hawks’ regular season. Included in that streak was the clinching of Kee’s second consecutive Upper Iowa Conference (UIC) season championship, as the Hawks completed a 17-1 record against fellow Upper Iowa Conference teams in league play this season.
“We will continue the expectation of being Conference Champions next year and the years to come,” Kee softball coach Liz Hill said. “The team fell short of State, but the girls are already putting time in the weight room to prepare for next season.”
During the 2015 softball season, the Hawks had to deal with many injuries. Coach Hill said that there were many players with sore arms and legs, and she added that in the upcoming seasons it will be crucial to keep everyone healthy and working hard.
This year, the Hawks had to say farewell to two seniors, Molly Walleser and Val Meyer, who participated in the program for each of their five summers of high school ball. Walleser played first base throughout her career and placed sixth in the batting order this season with a batting average of .344. Walleser had a fifth-best 42 hits that included six doubles and one homerun, driving in 17 runs (RBI).
Meyer played in the outfield over the course of her five-year career, playing right field for her senior season. Her offensive totals of 41 runs batted in, seven homeruns, 11 doubles and a .401 batting average all ranked second on this season’s team, with her 49 total hits ranking third.
“It is tough for the team to say goodbye to these two seniors,” Coach Hill said. “Molly and Val stuck with softball through the good and bad times. They were truly team leaders.” Coach Hill went on to say that Walleser will be missed for her amazing pick-ups at first base, and Meyer will be missed for her arm and hot bat all season. “Both girls have incredible bats, and they have been huge powerhouses over the last five years,” Coach Hill said.
Walleser and Meyer both played on the right side of the field. Coach Hill said the right side is considered more of the “strong side” of the field due to most game action taking place on the right side of the field. Coach Hill added that it will be tough to fill the shoes of the seniors, but she also said the girls will work hard to overcome that challenge.
This year, freshman third baseman/pitcher Kendra Cooper led the Hawks with the highest batting average of .431 that included other team highs of 56 hits, 13 doubles, two triples and 10 homeruns. Freshman catcher Chloe Severson also ripped a team-high two triples this season and ranked third on the team with four homeruns and 38 RBI. Sophomore Courtney Cooper led the Hawks with 42 RBI and ranked second with 50 total hits with third-place team rankings of four homeruns and a batting average of .379. Junior second baseman Ellie Cooper led the Hawk offense with 38 runs scored.
For their efforts this season, eight Kee players received special recognition for their hard work during the season. Meyer received First Team All-Conference outfield honors, Ellie Cooper and Kendra Cooper were both awarded First Team All-Conference infield accolades, and Courtney Cooper received First Team All-Conference pitcher recognition. Walleser was named a Second Team All-Conference infielder and freshman center fielder Nicki Wood was tabbed as a Second Team All-Conference outfielder. Junior left fielder Lily Winters and Severson each received Honorable Mention for the 2015 softball season.
The Cooper trio also received recognition at the District and State levels, as all three were named to the Class 1A Northeast District All-District Team. Kendra Cooper was also named to the Class 1A All-State First Team, Ellie Cooper was named Second Team All-State, and Courtney Cooper received All-State Honorable Mention from the Iowa Girls Coaches Association, with Courtney Cooper and Kendra Cooper also receiving Second Team All-State honors as a pitcher and utility player, respectively, from the Sports Spotlight organization.
Coach Hill said that the conditioning for the team in the off-season will continue. “It will make the girls all-around better athletes for softball and the other sports they are involved in. Also, pitching and hitting will continue during the off-season.”