Benton's Fiser, Wiebel headline all-state softball teams
Duo led Benton to a 43-2 record and the 3A state title
Benton Community's Amber Fiser (second from right) slaps hands with teammates after getting one of her 16 strikeouts during the Bobcats' Class 3A quarterfinal win over Estherville-Lincoln Central at the state softball tournament last week. Fiser is a first-team all-stater in 3A. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
Put the state’s most dominant pitcher in recent memory with one of the most feared sluggers of all time, and you’ve got something.
Add a rock-solid supporting cast, and you’ve got something unforgettable.
That’s what Benton Community had this summer.
“It’s really difficult to put into words what those two meant,” Bobcats Coach Eric Stenberg said of Amber Fiser and Alyssa Wiebel. “They took this program to a level we haven’t seen in a while.”
It’s no surprise that Fiser and Wiebel were selected to the Class 3A all-state softball first team, released today by the Iowa Girls Coaches Association.
Fiser (28-2) collected 46 strikeouts in three games as the Bobcats (43-2) outscored their opponents 21-1 and ran away with the 3A championship. That included 19 strikeouts in the championship game against Davenport Assumption, the most ever by a pitcher at state in a seven-inning game.
“I think a lot of us improved a lot,” said Fiser, who will pitch at the University of Minnesota next year. “We improved physically, but we improved mentally as well. A lot of things didn’t get in our heads this year that might have in the past.”
An Illinois State recruit and the 2016 state Gatorade player of the year, Wiebel batted .542 this season with 17 home runs. Her 64 career homers rank second all-time in Iowa behind Ankeny Centennial’s Kendyl Lindaman (71).
“Amber and Alyssa, they’re phenomenal players, really dominant players,” Stenberg said. “They’ll have great success in college.”
Add second-teamers Shelby Hulsebus and Angie Gorkow and third-teamer Anna Stenberg, and Benton had five all-state selections. That matches Solon (34-10), the third-place team in 3A.
The Spartans had three first-teamers — seniors Sydney Lawson and Monika Bevans, and junior Bryn Hanrahan.
Fueled by first-team picks junior Courtney Cooper (27-3, .403) and sophomore Kendra Cooper (.426, 9 HRs), Lansing Kee (39-6) captured the 1A championship.
Four Metro/Iowa City players earned first-team status in 5A, including UNI recruits Adara Opiola (senior) and Taleah Smith (junior) of Iowa City West and Tianna Drahn (senior) of Cedar Rapids Kennedy.
Drahn hit .566 with 62 runs and 60 stolen bases as Kennedy went 37-5, won its first MVC divisional title since 1996 and finished the season ranked No. 1. The Cougars were upset by Cedar Rapids Prairie in the regional finals.
Smith batted .490, and Opiola finished at .479 with 11 home runs for West (31-11).
Cedar Rapids Jefferson junior Avery Guy (.439, 44 runs) also made the first team.
Other area first-team selections are Kristen Wegmann of West Delaware in 4A, Libby Ryan of Mount Vernon, Alex Rath and Amber Kral of Mid-Prairie, Kelli Engelken of Dyersville Beckman and Peyton Parker of Union in 3A, Kennedy Brown and Sarah Lehman of Iowa City Regina, Lynsey Dolphin of Cascade and Kelsey Hora of Highland in 2A, and Taylor Huber of Alburnett in 1A.
Eric Stenberg was the 3A coach of the year; Kee’s Elizabeth Hill earned the same honor in 1A.
Kendyl Lindaman, sr., Ankeny Centennial; Taleah Smith, jr., Iowa City West; Sarah Schaefer, jr., Waukee; Jaclyn Spencer, sr., Waterloo West; DoniRae Mayhew, sr., Bettendorf; Skyler Shellmyer, soph., Urbandale; Adara Opiola, sr., Iowa City West; Brooke Wilmes, jr., Johnston; Haylee Towers, sr., Johnston; Mandi Roemmich, sr., West Des Moines Valley; Tianna Drahn, sr., Cedar Rapids Kennedy; Allison Doocy, sr., Ankeny; Brooke Sandstoe, sr., Johnston; Jasmine Lara, sr., Pleasant Valley; Avery Guy, jr., Cedar Rapids Jefferson; Mackenzie Ward, jr., West Des Moines Valley; Olivia Brooks, sr., Ankeny.
Coach of the year — Todd Merical, Johnston.
Second Team (area only)
Ashley Hamilton, jr., Cedar Rapids Kennedy; Erin Kuba, sr., Cedar Rapids Jefferson; Megan Weber, jr., Cedar Rapids Kennedy; Natalie Halvorson, Cedar Rapids Prairie.
Third Team (area only)
Kennedy Dighton, jr., Cedar Rapids Jefferson; Brylee Klosterman, 8th, Iowa City West; Elison Ollinger, jr., Linn-Mar.