Prep Softball

Teams of the decade: Area softball produces series of all-time greats

By Herald-Whig
Posted: May. 31, 2020 12:01 am

Throughout the last decade, area softball teams won 46 regional or district titles, 18 sectional titles, 11 state trophies and two state championships.

It became possible because an amazing depth of talent and incredibly versatile players. Each season, a bevy of all-state selections turned Northeast Missouri and West Central Illinois into a softball hotbed. From dominant pitchers to some of the best hitters in each program's history, the decade was filled with memorable moments and incredible action.

It made settling on 12 players for an all-decade team quite the task. It's a safe bet you could put together an almost equally dominant team with the next 12 on the list, and the depth of talent goes deeper than that.

Knowing the talent pool is deeply rich, here is the area softball all-decade team, as selected by Senior Sports Writer Matt Schuckman:

Cheyanne Bowman, Pitcher, Payson Seymour, Class of 2012

The most overpowering pitcher of the decade, Bowman helped Payson Seymour to a second-place finish and a school-record 32 victories as a senior when she struck out 500 batters. It is tied for the second-most single-season strikeouts in IHSA history. The 2012 Herald-Whig Player of the Year went 31-7 with a 0.75 ERA and 242 more strikeouts than any other pitcher in the area. She also threw six no-hitters as a senior after striking out an area-best 373 batters as a junior.

Daytona Dooley, Outfielder, Illini West, Class of 2019

A knee injury sidelined Dooley for her entire junior year, but she came back as one of the most dynamic offensive players in the area. She hit .515 with 15 doubles, four triples, 52 runs scored, 34 RBIs and 37 stolen bases in 38 attempts while being named The Herald-Whig Player of the Year as a senior. A three-time first-team all-area selection, Dooley hit .481 as a sophomore with 35 runs scored and 11 home runs after hitting belting 14 doubles and eight home runs as a freshman.

Jordan Hildebrand, Utility, Unity, Class of 2017

A three-time first-team all-area selection and a four-time All-West Central Conference pick, Hildebrand started her career as a catcher and wound up pitching and playing shortstop as well. After hitting .464 as a sophomore with an .884 slugging percentage and .429 as a junior with 11 extra-base hits, Hildebrand saved her best for last. As a senior, she hit .618 with a school-record nine home runs, while walking 19 times and getting hit by a pitch six times in just 23 games.

Abbey Hultz, Pitcher, Canton, Class of 2020

The Tigers made another state tournament run -- their fourth of the decade -- and finished second in Class 1 as Hultz was one of the stingiest pitchers in the area. She finished with a 19-2 record, an ERA of less than 0.40 and 219 strikeouts. She did not allow an earned run in the postseason and struck out the first nine batters in the state title game against Salisbury. Hultz also hit .549 with six home runs as the Tigers finished 23-2.

Olivia Jarvis, Pitcher, Canton, Class of 2018

A three-time first-team all-area selection and four-time Class 1 all-state honoree, Jarvis bookended her career with state tournament appearances. As a freshman, she went 17-5 with a 1.20 ERA as the Tigers finished third. As a senior, she went 15-4 with a 1.35 ERA with 108 strikeouts in 109 innings and hit .346 with 27 runs scored in leading Canton to the state championship before going on to pitch at Maryville University.

Avery Johnson, Third base, Highland, Class of 2015

A two-time all-state selection and The Herald-Whig Player of the Year in 2015, Johnson did a little of everything for the Cougars. As a senior, she hit .469 with 35 runs scored, 27 RBIs, seven doubles and four triples. She walked 13 times and struck out just three in 100 plate appearances. She also went 10-2 with 81 strikeouts in 72 innings. As a junior, she hit .467 with eight home runs, 38 runs scored, 18 stolen bases and 35 RBIs, while not committing an error as Highland reached the state quarterfinals.

Shelby Koehler, Utility, West Hancock, Class of 2014

Koehler was a four-time first-team all-area selection, a three-time all-state pick and the 2014 Herald-Whig Player of the Year when she enjoyed being one of the best power hitters ever in the area. She hit .500 with a .532 average with runners in scoring position, 12 home runs and 56 RBIs, while leading the Titans to a 27-4 record, a West Central Conference championship and a spot in the Class 2A sectional championship game. She finished her career with 161 RBIs.

Jacey Nall, Pitcher, Central, Class of 2018

Nall's record-setting career featured her being named The Herald-Whig Player of the Year three straight years and posting some insane career numbers. She finished with 1,002 strikeouts and 69 victories after going 20-5 with a 1.11 ERA as a senior and striking out a single-season record 290. She hit .376 or better all four seasons, earning first-team all-area each time, and batted .430 with five home runs as a senior.

Olivia Pfeiffer, Shortstop, Hannibal, Class of 2018

Pfeifer closed out a remarkable career by hitting .522 as a senior while collecting 47 hits and 45 runs in 90 at-bats. She had six doubles and eight triples and was 39 for 39 in stolen bases. A three-time first-time all-area and a three-time all-state selection, Pfeiffer set 17 school records while hitting .595 as a sophomore. She stole 98 bases in 101 attempts her final three years before signing with South Dakota State.

Carli Scifres, Catcher, Highland, Class of 2019

A three-time All-Clarence Cannon Conference selection, two-time first-team all-area honoree and first-team all-state selection, Scifres consistently reminded opponents not to run on her. She made just two errors as a senior and threw out 7 of 16 would-be base stealers. She set the Highland single-season record for batting average at .483 as a senior to go along with nine doubles, two home runs and 25 RBIs. She struck out just five times that season and finished her career with 125 hits.

Carly Spalding, Shortstop, Monroe City, Class of 2013

If there was a better hitter in the area Spalding's final two seasons, it would have been hard to find. She earned first-team all-state honors as a senior, leading the area with a .614 average and .679 on-base percentage, while swiping 36 of 38 bases. This came on the heels of a junior season in which she hit .540 with three home runs, eight triples and 27 stolen bases. She committed just three errors at shortstop before going on to play at Columbia College.

Alexis Van Nostrand, Catcher, Palmyra, Class of 2013

Arguably one of the most difficult hitters to strike out, Van Nostrand struck out just twice in 126 plate appearances as a senior and didn't strike out once in 30 games as a sophomore. In between, she led the area in hitting with a .559 average as a junior when she hit eight home runs and collected 40 RBIs. A three-time all-state selection and the 2013 Herald-Whig Player of the Year, Van Nostrand hit seven home runs with 37 RBIs as a senior when Palmyra finished fourth at the state tournament.