A strong finish highlighted the 2022 softball season for Colo-NESCO

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune

The Colo-NESCO softball team followed last year's blueprint and saved its best for last during the 2022 season.

The Royals finished 8-21 overall and 4-9 in the Iowa Star Conference South Division. They struggled through most of the season, but by the time the final week of the regular season came around things started to come together.

Shortstop Rylee Upchurch and the rest of the Colo-NESCO softball team played its best ball at the end of the season, winning three straight before losing to No. 4 Collins-Maxwell in the Class 1A regional quarterfinals.

Colo-NESCO won four of its final seven games. The Royals won their final two games of the regular season then downed Baxter in the opening round of Class 1A regional play before falling to fourth-ranked Collins-Maxwell in the semifinals.

The strong finish followed up last year's showing where Colo-NESCO won its final three games of the regular season and topped Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the opening round of regionals before coming up one run short against AGWSR.

"The girls made improvements and strides all year long," Colo-NESCO head coach Candace Sutton said. "I felt we ended the season the best version of ourselves."

Colo-NESCO started off the season losing five straight to GMG (6-3), Collins-Maxwell (3-0), English Valleys (11-1), Wapello (12-0) and Grand View Christian (11-4). The Royals picked up their first victory June 1 with a 10-0 victory over North Tama.

GMG and Tri-County handed Colo-NESCO 1-0 and 10-4 losses in its next two games. The Royals earned their second victory June 4 with a 6-1 victory over Belmond-Klemme.

After losses to West Marshall (4-0), Riceville (11-3 and 18-11), Collins-Maxwell (14-2), Baxter (15-6 and 19-18) and Montezuma (14-0) Colo-NESCO picked up its third win with a decisive 16-4 triumph over Dunkerton. The Royals then fell to Iowa Valley (16-4), Madrid (13-4) and Clarksville (18-0) before edging HLV (2-1) for their fourth win June 21.

Colo-NESCO wrapped up the regular season by losing to Don Bosco (9-2), crushing North Tama (14-1), falling to AGWSR (8-1) and Roland-Story (15-2) then defeating Janesville (7-2) and BCLUW (12-2). The Royals carried the momentum from those two victories into the opening round of regionals, where they pulled off a 7-6 victory over Baxter.

"It was fun to see the girls succeed together as a team," Sutton said. "The last week of the season they played some really good competitive games and found ways to win." 

Collins-Maxwell proved to be too much in the regional quarterfinals, handing Colo-NESCO a season-ending 8-0 setback.

For the season Colo-NESCO gave up 258 runs. The Royal pitching staff posted an ERA of 6.89 with 130 strikeouts against 75 walks in 169 2/3 innings.

Colo-NESCO fielded at an 89 % clip defensively with 91 errors in 831 chances.

"We did a lot of good things defensively," Sutton said. "We made the heads up plays that in previous years we would not have made."

Callie Kohlwes was Colo-NESCO's ace pitcher. She went 7-11 with a 5.07 ERA, 92 strikeouts and 40 walks in 109 innings during her junior season.

Callie Kohlwes won seven games at pitcher during her junior season for the Colo-NESCO softball team in 2022.

Sophomore Annabelle Nessa finished 1-10 with a 9.23 ERA, 36 strikeouts and 30 walks in 57 2/3 innings. Freshman Annabelle Heller threw five innings for the Royals.

In the field junior catcher Abigail Hostetler made only four errors in 161 chances and she threw out eight base runners. Senior infielder Izabelle Volker finished with six errors in 90 chances, junior first baseman Riley Handsaker had eight in 225 and senior outfielder Jenna Hill only had two in 33.

Senior infielder Rebekah Nessa recorded 18 assists and 12 putouts, Annabelle Nessa made 36 assists and 21 putouts, Kohlwes had 52 assists and 19 putouts, freshman outfielder Molly Angell made 11 putouts and sophomore Katherine Rouse three putouts and two assists.

On offense Colo-NESCO scored 137 runs and hit .264 as a team. The Royals tallied 24 doubles, four triples, one homer and 72 steals.

"Our offense took awhile to get going this season," Sutton said. "But the girls stuck with it and we were able to overcome it."

 Angell hit .355 with three triples, 16 runs and seven RBIs. Kohlwes posted a .320 average with four doubles, 16 runs and 17 RBIs.

Upchurch registered a .288 average with three doubles, 16 runs and 12 RBIs. Voelker tallied a .254 average with one double and 14 runs, Handsaker hit .253 with two doubles, 15 runs and seven RBIs, Rebekah Nessa finished with a .250 average, one double and 11 RBIs. 

Senior Taylor Cox hit .232 with seven doubles, one home run, eight runs and 11 RBIs. Hostetler tallied a .218 average with four doubles, 12 runs and 15 RBIs, Annabelle Nessa hit .212 with one double and RBI apiece and Hill scored 16 runs, drove in 11 and stole 17 bases.

 Rouse hit .429 with one run and five RBIs in limited action. Freshman courtesy runners Cerra Muntz and Jadyn Niemeyer scored 10 and eight runs respectively.

It won't be easy to replace Hill, Voelker, Cox and Rebekah Nessa next year.

"The senior class players were great leaders who will be missed," Sutton said.

But with their top pitchers back and several experienced fielders and hitters returning Colo-NESCO has a chance to make some noticeable strides in 2023

"Next season we have a few shoes to fill from the seniors," Sutton said, "but we're hoping to take this momentum and start (next) season off quicker."