Times are changing and the Norfolk Golden Girls under-18 softball team is changing with them. With the exception of its own tournament during the first week in June, the team spent its entire 2019 season on the road.
“Girls at this age have jobs now and some of them are graduating, so it got pretty stressful sometimes,” coach Jamie Adkins said.
The Golden Girls U18s did not play in a league this summer and therefore did not play any games on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays.
Instead the team logged hundreds of miles playing in weekend tournaments in cities like York, Hastings, Omaha, Kansas City and Sioux Falls.
“It’s always a challenging time to organize and schedule everything,” Adkins said. “We do a pretty good job of getting the schedule up front so parents can adjust to it.”
Despite playing the majority of their games away from home, the Golden Girls finished the season with a record of 30-12-1, won two tournaments — including their own — and finished as Class B state runners-up for the third year in a row.
“We started out the year a little slow; we were pretty young,” Adkins said. “We had some injuries we kind of had to fight through. We played in some pretty competitive tournaments and then — as the year got going, our pitching really came along and our hitting — ended up having a pretty decent year.”
One need only look to the pitching circle to find the main reason behind the squad’s impressive record. Brandy Unger finished the season with a record of 23-1 and a microscopic earned-run average of 0.62.
“She really held us together with her pitching,” Adkins said. In addition, the junior-to-be at Norfolk High walked just six hitters in 124 innings and led the team by belting five home runs.
When Unger needed a break, Adkins also turned to Alyssa Turner and Payten Magnussen to pick up the the pitching slack.
Turner, from Columbus and a Northeast Community College recruit, led the team with a .437 batting average and .491 on-base percentage. Bailey Bernstrauch was Ms. Clutch, as she hit .452 with runners in scoring position.
“Addi Duranski was second in average,” Adkins said, “and then our main core of girls were, for the most part, great role players for the whole team.”
That core included Skylar Hopkins, Ali Sovereign, Alyssa Nelson, Taylor Schmidt, Taylor Delp, Jade Koch, Vada Kruse and Natalia Linn.
“The best part about this team is they got along so well and were really good at picking each other up,” Adkins said.
“There was no drama, no issues at all — that I know of,” he added with a chuckle.
The Golden Girls U18s could be even better in 2020. All but one player will be eligible to return.