The last four years witnessed arguably the most prosperous run in the history of the Midway softball program.
At a powerhouse as saturated in history as Midway’s, that’s saying something.
There were three state tournament trips, a memorable state championship in 2010, a 46-2 district mark and a combined playoff record of 28-6.
The only common denominator through it all was Kelley Schaefer.
Schaefer’s was the first senior class to play under a coach not named Sherry Rogers in Midway softball history this season.
Undaunted as one of only two seniors, Schaefer stepped into the void as the incumbent leader and led the Pantherettes back to the state tournament for a second straight year.
“We were all kind of scared of change,” Schaefer said, “but it ended up being a good thing.”
After former teammate and batterymate Kermitria Ward won the award last year, it was the senior catcher’s turn this time.
Schaefer is the Super Centex Player of the Year.
“It was tough because we had to not only have a new coach and adjust to that, but it was hard to be motivated to top last year,” Schaefer said, “because you can’t top last year.”
Schaefer still tried.
With new coach Michelle Edwards at the helm, Schaefer batted .521, drove in 52 RBIs in the heart of Midway’s order and served as the patient backstop for Midway’s committee approach to pitching with a pair of first-year starters.
But to fully understand her success as a senior, you’d have to go back to her start at Midway.
As a wide-eyed freshman, Schaefer was bumped up to varsity for the playoffs as a backup catcher when Texas Tech commit Holley Gentsch contracted mononucleosis.
Midway faced Aledo in the state semifinals. Future Baylor stud Whitney Canion was in the opposing circle. Aledo won, 6-0.
“I was glad to be the freshman in the dugout,” Schaefer recalled. “Please don’t put me in.”
Schaefer won the starting job behind the plate as a sophomore and installed herself there as a fixture over the next three years.
If Midway was preordained as state favorites last year, there were few such thoughts this year.
“It was a weird feeling, not a good feeling,” Schaefer said. “Last year, we just kind of knew we were going to get to Austin. ... This year it was hard sometimes to get out there and play because sometimes people were like, ‘Well, they’re not going to do anything this year.’ ”
Schaefer, a Midwestern State commit, helped prove the doubters wrong by steering the Pantherettes to a 37-win season and their third state tournament in four years, where the jitters were no longer an issue for the hardened senior.
It wasn’t a bad way to end one of the most decorated careers in program history.
Coach of the Year:
Rachel Schuman, Connally
Rachel Schuman knew more than enough about Connally’s history in softball, or lack thereof, when she took over as head coach last summer.
“I figured it would be a slow process,” Schuman said. “They totally surpassed my expectations.”
For leading Connally into the playoffs for the first time in program history, Schuman is the Super Centex Coach of the Year.
The Lady Cadets marked a number of highlights and firsts this year, including a 1-0 win over eventual state qualifier West and a 6-2 bi-district win over Mexia.
As the season progressed, Connally finally believed the playoffs were attainable.
“The mental part of it is huge,” Schuman said. “I kept telling them, ‘You have to believe you can do it.’”
Newcomer of the Year:
Shelby Friudenberg, Bruceville-Eddy
Shelby Friudenberg isn’t quite sure where her sweet swing comes from.
Years of honing it to an art form with her father helped. So have endless summers spent playing select softball.
But when a freshman clobbers 17 home runs in a single season and drives in 70 runs, there’s clearly more at work than mere repetition.
“I don’t know, I guess I’ve had a lot of power since I was younger,” Friudenberg said. “I’ve been kind of bigger than everyone, and I guess I just started getting more and more muscle and hitting it over.”
Her lethal combination of power and guile from the plate for Bruceville-Eddy this season earned her the Super Centex Newcomer of the Year award.
The freshman’s power numbers almost don’t seem real. The Lady Eagles’ shortstop and No. 3 hitter for most of the year, Friudenberg hit .682, had 75 hits, scored 71 runs and added 26 doubles and five triples to her otherwordly home run total.
Understandably, Friudenberg avoided any freshman nerves.
With Friudenberg cleaning up in the middle of the lineup, Bruceville-Eddy made a somewhat surprising run to the Class 2A regional semifinals before being stopped by Callisburg.
“It was a real good experience,” Friudenberg said. “I honestly didn’t think we were going to get as far as we did, but we pulled through.”
|P||Sarah Beth Toben||So||25-7||0.85||Reicher|
|P||Morgan Van Meter||Jr||22-5||1.40||Robinson|
|Player of the Year: Kelley Schaefer, Midway|
|Newcomer of the Year: Shelby Friudenberg, Bruceville-Eddy|
|Coach of the Year: Rachel Schuman, Connally|
|P||Krysten Shavers||So||14-13||3.67||Waco High|
|Catchers: Sydney Christensen, Crawford; Natalie Edens, Hubbard; Alyssa Richards, Italy; Kaleigh Lightsey, Itasca; Destiny Davis, Moody; Callie Clugston, Riesel; Emily Fuqua, Teague; Hallie Monkres, West|
|Infielders/outfielders: Katie Andrie, China Spring; Kelsey Engeldinger, Olivia Loredo and Kassie Terrall, Connally; Kirsten Goodwin, Crawford; Jamie Madison and Kailey Swick, Groesbeck; Kate Saucke, Hubbard; Anna Viers, Italy; Lulu Rodriguez, Itasca; Kaymee Gooden, Celeste Hefelfinger, Brittinee Williams and Jessica Williams, Mart; Sarah Calame and Katie Day, Mexia; Melodie Brown, Midway; Kelsey Vann, Moody; Jordan Armstrong and Kate Harrison, Reicher; Danielle Rousey, Riesel; Kelly Baker and Spencer Strain, Robinson; Felecia Mungia, Troy; Megan Allred and Jordan Horn, West|
|Pitchers: Stacey Underwood, Hico; Kelsey Wood, Riesel; Robin Wright, Whitney|
Veteran backstop, District 8-4A MVP lended 4 HRs, 20 doubles to second straight state appearance.
Stellar pitcher was even better from plate, earning 8-3A offensive MVP with 56 hits at top of the lineup.
Two-time Centex first-teamer was a font of power, clubbing 5 HRs, scoring 50 times in state season.
Underclassman posts her second straight Super Centex nod; valuable leadoff bat for regional finalist.
Handled the hot corner with ease and her speed was invaluable; stole 17 bases on 19 attempts.
Youngster fit right in on Midway’s state team, making first-team all-district and scoring 31 runs.
Was always a hot bat in the heart of the lineup; posted a .465 on-base percentage and banged out 48 hits.
Posted astounding numbers for a freshman: .632 on-base, 40 stolen bases in regional semi season.
Gave district co-champs constant bolt of power in meat of the lineup with 8 HRs, 41 RBIs and 52 hits.
Consummate leadoff hitter made basepaths second home; also fielded a pristine .967 percentage.
Precision pitcher led McGregor to second straight playoffs with 209 K’s to 22 BB’s in 172 innings.
Anchored regional semifinal run by losing just one decision all year; struck out 86 in 117 innings.
Talent belied her age; led Lady Goats to their deepest postseason run with .963 fielding, 192 strikeouts.
Highlight of season was no-hitter in regional finals, but 107-K pitcher also hit .318 and drove in 22.
SARAH BETH TOBEN
Former Newcomer of the Year followed up with best ERA in the area and 307 K’s in 162 1/3 innings.
MORGAN VAN METER
Led Robinson to brink of state with 22-win season, 201 strikeouts in first full year as the No. 1 starter.
Put up some gaudy, player-of-the-year-caliber stats, but none more impressive than 17 HRs and 70 RBIs.
In first year in Waco, led the Lady Cadets to their first playoff appearance and first playoff win.