SIOUX CITY – Five Northwest Iowa softball teams reached the state tournament for the second straight season.
Those five schools were among several Northwest Iowa teams rewarded Friday with the announcement of the Iowa Girls Coaches Association All-State Teams.
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley, playing in its third straight state tournament, had three selections, a total matched by Westwood, which was making its first state tournament appearance since 2007.
Akron-Westfield and Sioux Center, two more state tourney teams, had two players selected. Sergeant Bluff-Luton, back at state for the first time since 2013, had one.
Summing it up, the five state tourney teams accounted for 11 of the 33 from Journal circulation area teams that earned honors on one of the three teams in each of the five classes. A total of 314 players were named in the sixth year of the five-class era.
River Valley senior Makenna Thomas earns first-team honors for the third consecutive season after hitting .382 with nine home runs and 46 RBIs. Thomas, who had 29 career home runs, is one of seven area athletes to earn first-team honors, including four in 1A.
Akron-Westfield senior pitcher Ann Hedlund (18-2, 1.62 ERA) is a repeat first-team selection who also hit .406 for a Westerners team that led the state in runs scored.
Earning first-team honors for the first time are Newell-Fonda sophomore Olivia Larsen (.412) and Woodbury Central senior Halle Gray (.373), who hit nine home runs, including three games with two each.
Akron-Westfield junior Brynn VanEldik (.507), one of six named to the second team, shared the 1A state lead with 64 runs scored (with her teammate Kiana Appley) and also shared the 1A state lead in hits (69) with Colfax-Mingo senior Amy Russell, a first-team selection.
Charter Oak-Ute senior Mandy Meseck (.431) earns second-team honors for the second straight season. Meanwhile, the first-time all-staters include West Monona freshman Lexi Lander (.525, 1A-leading 23 doubles), along with West Sioux freshman Shayden Blankenship (.451) and Westwood teammates Kalie Toben (.417) and Katelyn Martian (.454).
Third-team honors went to West Sioux freshman Payton Schwiesow (.458), River Valley senior Alycen Knaack (.432), Remsen St. Mary’s junior Veda Pick (.393), Newell-Fonda freshman Megan Morenz (.416) and Westwood sophomore Andee Martin (.432), who earned third-team honors as a freshman playing for Lawton-Bronson.
Class 1A accounted for 15 of the 33 Siouxland area athletes named to the all-state teams.
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley junior pitcher Kaitlyn Van Der Zwaag (.455, 31-5, 1.31 ERA) is a repeat first-team selection. Van Der Zwaag had 10 home runs and 53 RBIs as the Nighthawks equaled the school-record for wins in a season with 32.
Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley senior Cassie Van Beek (.485, 5 HR, 38 RBI), a four-time honoree, is a second-team selection after earning first-team honors each of the last two seasons. Spirit Lake junior Kelsey Kannenberg (.468, 10 HR, 59 RBI), named to the second team, earns her first all-state honor.
A trio of first-time honorees earned third-team honors in Class 3A, Boyden-Hull/Rock Valley senior Sammy Blum (.472), Sioux Center junior Shayla Post (.519) and Cherokee junior Lindsay Williams (.426).
Alta/Aurelia sophomore Abby Kraemer, the state’s strikeout leader with 381, earns first-team honors after compiling a 27-3 record and a 1.18 earned run average. The righthander, a second-team selection as a freshman, was also a good offensive weapon hitting .453 with five home runs and 38 RBIs.
Kraemer’s teammate Lily Peterson, a junior, was named to the second team after earning first-team honors as a sophomore. Peterson (.404) led the Warriors’ with 10 home runs and tied Kraemer with 38 RBIs.
Earning third-team honors were South O’Brien freshman Taryn Hintz (.484), West Lyon junior Jordyn Kramer (.474) and Okoboji senior Lindsey Wittrock (.411).
Bishop Heelan senior Lexie Stolen was named an all-stater for the third time, earning second-team 4A honors after breaking her own single-season school record for batting average, hitting .510 with 11 home runs and 38 RBIs.
Crusaders’ junior Ellie Cropley (.480), who’s 60 hits rank third on the single-season school chart, is a third-team selection along with Sergeant Bluff-Luton senior Merrin Van Velzen (.393), a two-time all-stater.
Denison-Schleswig teammates in sophomore Sarah Heilesen (.430, 27-3, 2.55 ERA), a second-team selection, and sophomore Alex Mohr (.452), a third-team choice, are first-time all-staters.