Panthers continue excellent softball tradition

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff


THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS had an outstanding 2013 softball season as they finished 18-3 overall and placed second in the EWC with a 12-2 record. Team members include (front row, left to right) Georgia Wise, Marissa Grapentine, Joa Cain, Miranda Stauss, Emily Marty, Sara Thompson, Hannah Kaiser, Sophia Kiela, (back row) coach Dawn Krebsbach, Brianna Sippel, Mckenna Nischke, Sara Romps, Rachel Romps, Mikaela Holdridge and head coach Gale Grahn. — Photo by Todd Starnitcky THE PLYMOUTH PANTHERS had an outstanding 2013 softball season as they finished 18-3 overall and placed second in the EWC with a 12-2 record. Team members include (front row, left to right) Georgia Wise, Marissa Grapentine, Joa Cain, Miranda Stauss, Emily Marty, Sara Thompson, Hannah Kaiser, Sophia Kiela, (back row) coach Dawn Krebsbach, Brianna Sippel, Mckenna Nischke, Sara Romps, Rachel Romps, Mikaela Holdridge and head coach Gale Grahn. — Photo by Todd Starnitcky PLYMOUTH – A strong team effort propelled the Plymouth softball team to another terrific season this past spring.

The Panthers finished second in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference with a 12-2 record and chalked up an 18-3 overall mark. The 18 wins are the fourth highest in school history and the .857 winning percentage ranks third.

The 12 conference wins are the most since 2007. PHS has had an impressive 18 straight winning seasons. Head coach Gale Grahn reached the 300-win milestone this year. He has a career coaching record of an outstanding 315-157 (.667 winning percentage) over 23 seasons, all at PHS.

“This was another great group of girls, led by my eight seniors. They had excellent team chemistry throughout the season,” said Grahn.

“They stayed focused during all the bad weather, cancelled games, etc. They came ready to play each and every night. We played 16 games in 22 days and won 15 of them.

“I’m very proud of all they accomplished. Teams know that Plymouth is a program to be reckoned with year after year,” the coach said.

The Panthers, who had winning streaks of nine and eight games this year, were ranked as high as No. 7 in the wissports.net Division 2 poll.

Grahn pointed out the top keys to his team’s successful campaign.

“We had great pitching all season from Rachel [Romps] and got timely hits from everyone in the order,” he noted.

“We played excellent defense, as our .957 fielding percentage was the second best in team history [23 errors all season].

“We got contributions from a number of different players, some playing new positions, to offset the loss of Sophia [Kiela]. It was very hard to lose her but the team responded very well,” said Grahn.

Kiela, a senior shortstop, missed most of the season due to a knee injury.

“We overcame some adversity. We just hung together as a group to put together another great season,” Grahn said.

He commented on each of the players.

“Rachel had an outstanding season. She had nine shutouts and a no-hitter. She continues to improve each season,” Grahn said.

Romps’ 18 wins this past season are the third highest in PHS history.

“Sara Thompson [senior second baseman] moved to second base after Kiela’s injury and did an excellent job. She had a great four-year varsity career,” said Grahn.

“Mikaela Holdridge [senior third baseman] had another excellent season. She had only three errors all season.

“Marissa Grapentine [senior center fielder] went from a bunt threat to a solid hitter in the No. 2 spot. She had excellent range in center field and had six assists.

“Sara Romps [junior catcher] made only two errors and one passed ball.

“Joa Cain [senior first baseman]. had an excellent offensive season and worked hard to improve defensively at first,” Grahn pointed out.

“Sophia’s season was cut short but remained our team leader from the dugout. She can look back on an excellent four-year varsity career.

“Miranda Stauss [senior] moved to shortstop after Sophia’s injury and played solid defense – committing only three errors in 16 games.

“Hanna Kaiser [senior left fielder] made several nice catches.

“Emily Marty [senior right fielder] moved to the leadoff sport after Kiela’s injury and stayed consistent as a left slapper.

“Brianna Sippel [junior] played as the designated player most of the season and had three extra-base hits.

“Mckenna Nischke [junior] contributed mostly as a courtesy runner.

“Georgia Wise [senior, foreign-exchange student from Australia] was a lot of fun to have on the team,” said Grahn.

“We will have five returning letter winners only as we lose eight great seniors. However, these five will work hard this summer and winter, and combined with a 10-2 junior varsity team, we look forward to another strong season next year.

AWARDS, FINAL STATS

Rachel Romps, an All-EWC first-team pick, was voted the Panthers’ Most Valuable Player by her teammates. She was 18-3 with an impressive 1.60 ERA and an excellent 174 strikeouts and only 18 walks in 136 innings.

The other award-winners were Thompson and Holdridge, Top Offensive Players; Sippel, Most Improved; Sara Romps, Top Defensive Player; and Kiela, Coaches’s Award. Thompson, Holdridge and Kiela were the team captains.

Thompson led PHS in batting with a scorching .450 average and tied for first in RBIs with Holdridge at 21 each. Thompson, Holdridge and Grapentine led in runs with 20 apiece.

Holdridge hit a team-high two home runs. Grapentine paced PHS in steals with 11.

PHS stole 33 bases and was caught only twice.

All of the players on the team earned letters.

FINAL PLYMOUTH
SOFTBALL STATISTICS
Batting Leaders
Avg.
Sara Thompson……….…............. .450
Mikaela Holdridge……….…....….. .382
Joa Cain……….…....…................. .377
Marissa Grapentine….….........….. .371
RBI
Thompson….…....….........................21
Holdridge……….…....…....................21
Cain….…....…...................................18
Pitching Leader
W L ERA
Rachel Romps… ……….18 3 1.60


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