The North Tama softball team improved by leaps and bounds in 2013, winning 16 games, finishing fourth in the Iowa Star Conference and securing home field advantage in district play. Unfortunately for the ladies, their postseason ride was a short one, as they fell 4-0 to an upstart South Hamilton squad last Wednesday night.
Emma Knoop pitched seven innings-six of which were solid-but a three-run third helped secure the victory for South Hamilton. Knoop struck out three in the contest.
The Redhawks were unable to get anything going offensively, recording only three hits in the game. Sophomore Anna Kvidera had a hit and a stolen base.
The loss ended the season for North Tama, which finished with a 16-11 overall record. That is a drastic improvement over a 9-15 finish last season in head coach Bob Cue's first year at the helm.
The game also marked the final time four seniors will don the red and white. Emma Knoop, Christy Calderwood, Allison Zobel and Shannon Stuart all graduated this spring.
Knoop was the Redhawks' workhorse on the mound this season, finishing 12-8 with a 3.93 ERA over a span of 103 1/3 innings. She struck out 73 and walked 42. On the offensive side, she finished the season hitting .418 with 17 RBI and tied for the team lead in stolen bases with 13.
Calderwood hit a solid .373 and was among the team leaders with two home runs and 23 RBI. She also stole eight bases and was second in slugging percentage at .640.
Allison Zobel, an all-around athlete who became the leading scorer in North Tama girls basketball history in the spring, finished the softball season hitting .351 with 17 RBI. Zobel also tied for a team lead with 13 stolen bases on the year.
Shannon Stuart finished 2013 with a .227 batting average along with a home run and 17 RBI. She was effective on the bathpaths, swiping eight bags this year.
Outside of the play of the North Tama seniors, perhaps the biggest story of the year was the offensive emergence of sophomore Sarah Howard. For much of the season, Howard was in the top ten statewide in Class 2A with a batting average well into the .500s. Her production tailed off toward season's end, but she still managed to finish the year with a .467 average, highest on the team.
Howard also hit two home runs and recorded 22 RBI. Her work on the mound as a solid reliever also helped the Redhawks. She finished 2-1 in 12 1/3 innings of work.
Freshman Madison Howard was the only other Redhawk to start a game this season, finishing 2-2 with 37 1/3 innings of work under her belt as a freshman. Her 4.88 ERA and 46 strikeouts were impressive for such a young player. In limited offensive action, Howard hit .375 with 6 RBI in just 16 at-bats. Her presence will certainly be a plus for the Redhawks next season.
Another young player who made a splash in 2013 was sophomore Anna Kvidera. Her .431 batting average was second on the team, and she racked up 17 RBI and 11 stolen bases. Kvidera had the highest on base percentage for North Tama at .532.
A trio of juniors who will be team leaders next year also stepped up big in providing some much-needed offense during the 2013 season. Whitney Pokorny was North Tama's most potent run producer, leading the team with 24 RBI. Pokorny hit .343 on the year and stole seven bases.
Samantha Zobel batted .373 in 2013, driving in 20 runs, and Courtney Stuart hit .286 with a home run and 22 RBI.
Sophomore Jessi Jacobs appeared in 25 games for the Redhawks, batting .417 and swiping 10 bases. Jayde Vogeler, Kodi Hillman, Sammy Watson, Jaide Johnson, Maddy Clausen, Brieanna Ewoldt and Carlie Feisel also saw some limited action in 2013.
With a depth of talent returning and steady leadership, the Redhawks look well-prepared for future seasons.