SIOUX CITY – Lexie Stolen was in one of those offensive grooves Saturday at the Tornado Classic in Storm Lake.
The Bishop Heelan senior reached base in all seven of her plate appearances in two games going 6-for-7 with three home runs, two doubles and six RBIs.
The Sioux City Journal’s Metro Athlete of the Week had three hits in four plate appearances against River Valley and followed that up with a 3-for-3 game against Alta/Aurelia.
“Lexie sees the ball so well,” said Heelan coach Stacia Barker. “When she goes up to the plate everybody feels great, she sees the ball and she gets her hands through the zone really quickly and she makes adjustments at the plate.
“It’s really good for the other girls to look at she goes with an outside pitch, she’ll go with an inside pitch, she doesn’t try to pull the ball all the time.”
Her ability to adjust at the plate was evident on Saturday as all three of her home runs came on pitches that she adjusted to, two in the River Valley game and one against Alta/Aurelia.
“That was a very good pitcher and you don’t really know what’s going to happen, looking for the ball, swinging and hopefully you hit it,” said Stolen. “I think she got it right on the sweet spot (of the bat), honestly, it sort of just went (out).”
The big day on Saturday capped a big week for the daughter of Tom and Tracy Stolen as she also homered in a tense 8-7 victory over Sergeant Bluff-Luton on Tuesday.
Her 8-for-10 week in three games upped her season average to .515, well above her single season school record of .500 from a year ago.
While she is quickly moving up the school record books in several single season and career categories where she is already the leader in doubles, it’s her play defensively that may get overlooked at times.
The shortstop has committed just one error this season in 75 chances for a .987 fielding percentage.
“Defensively we're a great team with her, a better team with her, everybody is confident in her ability to make plays,” said Barker. “She’s such a leader on the field. We’re pretty lucky to have her out there anchoring this team.
“Her ability to get to balls to throw girls out and just her strength, she can play deep in the hole at shortstop and throw girls out.”
The Crusaders won the Missouri River Conference title for the first time since 2010 and at 28-6 have won at least 25 or more games for a third straight season.
“Coming in we only lost one senior (from last year) we were expecting a pretty good season,” said Stolen. “We had our bumps and bruises playing in Ankeny and Fort Dodge which we expected, but seeing good competition will help us in the postseason.”
Lexie’s mother is the former Tracy Sitzmann, a 1986 Heelan grad where she pitched during her prep career before going on to play collegiately at Briar Cliff. Lexie, meanwhile, will take her talents to play softball at Morningside and for the first time in her career will be focusing on just one sport.
“Picking the sport I don’t think was difficult, the college was probably the difficult part,” said Stolen. “I think I ended up with the right decision.
“I’m sort of excited to just focus on one sport. Playing three sports you put in the offseason work, but just having the mindset on softball I think is going to help me a lot.”
Bradee Bouman, Sergeant Bluff-Luton...Junior pitcher/infielder went 8-for-17 with three doubles and home run and 11 RBIs in six games last week while also posting 3-0 pitching mark.
Hunter Krommenhoek, North...Sophomore had seven hits last week as team swept West and split with East before downing Alta/Aurelia to move to 18-14.