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By Sara Welch | Staff Writer
Field blazed its way through Portage Trail Conference Metro Division competition this season to capture a back-to-back championship and finish with a 17-3-1
overall record and a 10-2 league record.
Going into the season with two young and inexperienced pitchers, the team's key to success was bringing both Hunter Silveus and Sammy Eckhart up to speed to compete at the varsity level.
Having head coach Beth Dyer and assistant coach Bob Bauer certainly helps in that progression. Both of whom were recognized for their efforts this season by being named co-Coach of the Year in the Metro Division.
Silveus, a freshman, finished the year with a 10-2 record and 0.84 earned-run average. She struck out 72 and was named Second Team All-Metro Division.
"Hunter pitched both games against Springfield for us and I think that's when she really opened some eyes," Dyer said. "She did a great job with Springfield the first game and those are two big wins for us. I think she did a great job early on and continued throughout the season."
Eckhart, another freshman, was also a key from inside the circle. Dyer never designated Silveus or Eckhart as the team's No. 1. They allowed both to rotate in and out of games, gauging their abilities against the upcoming competition.
"Both of them brought different qualities that we liked," Dyer said. "We just didn't feel it was fair to name a No. 1 or No. 2. I thought both of the pitchers did a fantastic job."
For Dyer, who has led Field to six championships in eight years, this was her fourth time receiving the top coaching honors from her peers.
Bauer, Dyer's father, shouldered the task of fine-tuning Silveus and Eckhart as starting pitchers. He called the pitches, groomed their skills while always injecting his extensive knowledge of the game through the team.
"I don't think of myself as the head coach and him the assistant," Dyer said. "I just think we work well together. He probably had a tough task working with two inexperienced pitchers at the varsity level. To be able to walk away with a league championship, I contribute that to our team as a whole, but also the guy calling the pitches. He's been around the league for a while, and I think a lot of our success is attributed to him."
Senior Tiffany Spaller should also be attributed for the team's success.
The Falcons' centerfielder was named the Metro Division Player of the Year.
The four-year letterwinner, who had zero errors this season, covered endless ground in the outfield, allowing her younger pitchers to have confidence to challenge hitters.
"Having two young pitchers with no varsity experience, made having Tiffany on the team crucial," Dyer said. "With her out in centerfield, we knew that anything that was hit out there that was catchable, Tiffany was going to get. She pretty much held down the outfield. She's been a four-year starter for us, so I think through her experience, everyone looked to her. She's well respected just for being a great athlete and a great ball player. She knows how to handle herself on and off the field. She's just a great role model for everybody. She fills that leadership role and the captain role by being who she is. She really stepped up her hitting for us this year, too."
This year, Spaller batted cleanup, hitting for an average of .425 with 25 RBI, 25 runs scored, two home runs and a .488 on-base percentage. In 73 at-bats, she struck out only five times.
"She's always been a pretty consistent hitter. This year, she just came up with some hits when we needed them and managed to get on base when we needed it," Dyer said. "She just continuously contributed to winning to put us in that championship game at the end of the season."
Justine Barnes was Field's only other First-Team recipient. Known as one of the most well-respected defensive catchers in the league, Barnes only gave up four passed balls all season. She finished the year with a .392 batting average and 12 RBI as the team's lead-off hitter. She struck out only five times in 83 at-bats.
Rounding out the Metro Division's First Team were Kara Stults, a freshman pitcher from Norton; Sadie Janus, a senior pitcher from Kent Roosevelt; Kennedy Colegrove, a junior first baseman from Springfield; Deanna Cole, a junior middle infielder from Springfield; Kayleigh Myers, a junior middle infielder from Norton; Jenn Doershuk, a senior third baseman from Kent Roosevelt; Brooke Robinson, a senior outfielder from Norton; Bailee Kodash, a sophomore outfielder from Crestwood; Alexis Slider, a senior outfielder from Springfield; Megan Durnan, a senior from Kent Roosevelt and Kassy Flores, a senior from Springfield.