SIOUX CITY – No matter the sports, no matter the situation, Lexie Stolen was always at her best in the biggest moments.
The talented, three-sport athlete at Bishop Heelan pushed herself and her teammates to be the best they could be whether it was on the basketball floor, the soccer field or the softball diamond.
Stolen led the Crusaders in scoring and rebounding for Coach Darron Koolstra in basketball, was the leading goal scorer for Coach Jared Bodammer in soccer and led Coach Stacia Barker’s softball squad in several offensive categories.
The daughter of Tom and Tracy Stolen, honored as the Sioux City Journal’s Metro Female Athlete of the Year, won All-Missouri River Conference all-conference honors as well as all-district honors in each sport and all-state honors in soccer and softball.
“She was a versatile player that could play multiple positions for us,” said Koolstra. “She was just an all-around athlete that gave us a lot of options with the ball on the basketball court.
“She lead us in scoring, rebounding and assists, she led us in a lot of different categories, just has a lot to do with being an all-around athlete and playing multiple sports.”
Stolen averaged 13.1 points and 6.3 rebounds and exploded for a career-high 34 points in an exciting contest against eventual Class 2A state champion Western Christian in a late January home game at “The Pit.”
“That was probably one of the best performances in ‘The Pit’ that anybody has ever had,” said Koolstra. “She basically brought us and got us into that game and made it a competitive game against a state championship team.
“It was just an all-around game, a great effort, she gives a lot to our team, she made her teammates better, a lot of good things to say about someone that can excel in three sports.”
Her strong competitive nature came out in all her sports, but none probably bigger than the regional basketball game this season against Le Mars. She fought through a cut on her finger, which eventually required stitches, that happened roughly 30 minutes prior to the game to score 18 points in a three-point setback.
“It was a performance that probably a lot of people don’t realize what exactly happened 30 minutes before the game. That just tells you what type of player she is,” said Koolstra.
Stolen, despite not participating in soccer as a freshman, went on to record three straight double digit goal scoring seasons. She tallied 11 goals and eight assists as a senior, working against more closely marked defenders.
“As anyone that watched her play, her raw talent and the competitor within make her a very special student-athlete and have made her a very special player for us and all the coaches that have had an opportunity to coach her,” said Bodammer. “She is focused on not only her goals but the team goals. She has that internal drive and she works really hard and pushes herself.
“She knows that as a dual-sport athlete in our season she is trying to balance softball practice and soccer practice at the same time and she’s putting in the extra work for both aside from the regular practices. It’s one of the things that makes her very special.”
Stolen was at home on the softball diamond, the sport she will pursue in college at Morningside, the sport that she set numerous single season and career school records in.
“Lexie has always been determined to play her best and be at her best all the time,” said Barker.
The shortstop eclipsed her own single-season school record for batting average as a senior, hitting .510, while also setting a new school mark in doubles (22). Her career totals of 54 doubles and a .412 average are also school records while she became just the third in school history to reach 200 career hits.
“Reflecting back on the last five years with Lex, the most unique thing I'll take away from her high school career is our ability to read one another,” said Barker. “She could be on first base after a hit and we'll notice something like the pitcher turning away from her, or I'll notice her taking a few extra steps on a lead off.
“I didn't need to give her a signal to know that we were thinking the same thing and a shrug of a shoulder or head is about all she needed from me for the OK to take an extra base. From hook sliding around a defender or making playing shortstop look effortless, she knows the game so well and was just fun to coach. I really feel blessed to have someone like Lexie on the team as I began my coaching career.”