Softball team earns Sun Athlete of the Year
Squad made improbable run to state tournament in June
On June 7, the Hamilton Chargers varsity girls softball team made its bid.
Seeded ninth in a WIAA regional, the Chargers sent Watertown packing at Arrowhead High School, upsetting the Goslings, 4-3, and qualifying for the WIAA Division 1 state tournament.
It was a stunning feat that merited the selection of the softball team as the 17th annual Sussex Sun Athlete of the Year.
The road to state and Goodman Diamond saw the Chargers take out Kettle Moraine, Menomonee Falls and West Allis Hale, along with the Goslings. All four teams were seeded higher than the Chargers.
"We started out 7-0, playing very well, and had the look of a team that had the makeup for a run at it and a breakout year," longtime coach Jim Lawinger said. "But then went through a stretch where we didn't get the big hit or make the plays when we had to."
Hamilton qualified for its eighth state tournament in June. Prior trips came in 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991.
The Chargers magical season ended in Madison with an 18-2 loss to Chippewa Falls, the eventual state champion, in the quarterfinals.
Jenny Shernell, the team's shortstop, hit a long home run in the first inning off Goslings ace Genelle McFarland, but Watertown quickly answered, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first.
Later in the game, Sami Williams reached on an error, putting Hamilton in front, 4-3.
In the bottom of the seventh, Sprinkel allowed the leadoff hitter, Breanna Schuett a free pass, but ended up finishing what she started, withstanding a sacrifice bunt and two groundouts.
"All season, we had a plan to start with Syd, and then bring in Emily Jansen," Lawinger said. "But when I went out to talk to Syd, she told me she could get it done, so I stuck with her and she did it."
Other roster members included Katie Weber, Taylor Vigani, Kelsey Mason, Tori Meyer, Mariah Schuldt, Bailee Bobert, Whitney Wnuk, Cassidy Schilz and Casey Walther.
Shernell and Williams, both returning this spring, were named first team in the Greater Metro Conference.
"We went through some highs and lows, but we went with the philosophy that anything can happen, and it did," Lawinger said. "I guess you could say its one of those classic high school stories that makes lasting memories."
Two other teams have won the Sussex Sun award, including the Sussex Jayhawks youth football team in 1997 and the Hamilton varsity girls track and field team in 2011.
Sussex Sun Athlete of the Year
1996 - Melissa Schweinert, Hamilton-Falls girls swimming
1997 - Sussex Jayhawks youth football
1998 - Sara Urbanek, college women's volleyball, Northern Illinois University
1999 - Jenny Prochazka, Hamilton girls track and field
2000 - Sara Urbanek, college women's volleyball, University of Wisconsin
2001 - Leslie Osborne, college women's soccer, Santa Clara University
2002 - A.J. Morgan, Hamilton wrestling
2003 - Jake Ebenhoch, Northern Illinois University football
2004 - Leslie Osborne, college women's soccer, Santa Clara University
2005 - Steve Hicklin, college men's basketball at UW Stevens Point
2006 - Leslie Osborne, U.S women's soccer team
2007 - Leslie Osborne, U.S. women's soccer team
2008 - Marcus Paulson, Hamilton cross country and track and field
2009 - Kellyn Johnson, college women's cross country and track and field
2010 - Dean Haase, Lannon Land O' Lakes baseball
2011 - Hamilton girls track and field team
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