WATERTOWN, Wis. -- March 19, 2021, was a milestone for the Maranatha Softball program, as they punctuated their first game in almost three years with a thrilling 1-run win.
The return to play was significant, and the win made it that much sweeter. A program relying on creativity and resilience was rewarded for sticking to the goal when it mattered most - it was the payoff for a lot of hard work for Coach Rob Thompson and the program, as they fielded a viable team once again after 2 seasons were canceled. And for a year that was tainted with uncertainty, the win was all the more rewarding.
And it set the tone for 2 more wins later in the season, as the Sabercats broke into the history books with a wild 32-24 win over North Central a few weeks later. That's not a typo - the Sabercats actually won 32-24 in a game that lasted just 5 innings. In that brief outing, the Sabercats set or tied 5 program records and broke into the program Top-10 records in 14 different categories.
The Sabercats would eventually split all 3 series with North Central on the season, but the wins weren't the only goal for Coach Thompson on the team. Thompson urged the student-athletes to grow in their individual walks with the Lord and honor and "Praise Him" in everything that they did this season.
"God has uniquely put this team together," said Thompson. "And it's been interesting and a blessing to see how such a group of young women can blend together to be an example of God's handiwork. This team has done a lot to just get back on the field and show the character to work hard. I consider it a real privilege to be their coach."
The team awards from Coach Thompson were as follows:
Most Improved - Krysten Lawver
Defensive Player of the Year - Dani Chaney
Player of the Year - Erin Yancey
Coach's Award - Erin Yancey, Taylor Thome
Besides that, Thome and Yancey earned recognition from the NCCAA as North Central All-Region Selections - the first selections for the program since the 2017 season:
Thome earned the award as she finished a four-year career that consisted of just two seasons. She batted .363 while logging 124 at-bats, 45 hits, 10 doubles, and 21 runs. Thome recorded four triples and a home run while holding a .832 fielding percentage at shortstop. This season, Thome compiled a .706 slugging percentage, which was the 8th-highest mark in NCCAA Softball.
Yancey earned her first career win in her first career game, as she was in the circle for the Sabercats' season-opening 10-9 win over North Central. Yancey finished the season with two wins and 30 strikeouts on the year, picking up another win against North Central the day after the season-opener. Yancey was a force on both sides of the ball, as she hit .356 with a .431 on-base percentage on the year.
Taylor Thome was the only one on the team to compete for 4 seasons, and she was honored at the recent athletic awards assembly along with 10 other student-athletes that completed 4-year careers.