EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Lydia Leahy, Sr., Belmont softball
Belmont senior right fielder Lydia Leahy helped rally the Braves in the sixth inning of last Thursday’ WIAA Division 5 state semifinal softball at Goodman Diamond in Madison. Leahy came through with a clutch two-run single to right field in the top of the sixth to drive home pinch runner Ashley Knebel and shortstop Nikki Kneel to pull the Braves within striking distance at 5–3.
Then, with sophomore outfielder Callie Wiegel at the plate, Leahy danced between first and second base drawing a pickoff throw from Chippewa Falls McDonell Central catcher Liz Rietschal before diving safely back into first base, allowing Althaus just enough time to dart home to make it a one-run game.
The Belmont rally ended their and the Braves went 1-2-3 in the top of the seventh inning ending their season at 28–3, but Leahy’s big hit and gutsy base running helped key Belmont’s comeback effort earning her this week’s Mast Water Technology Athlete of the Week award.
McDonell Central (22–4) went on to win the D5 state title with an 8–3 victory over Blair–Taylor in Saturday’s championship game.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Sami Brookens, Sr., F, Platteville/Lancaster girls soccer
Brookens was recently named the Southwest Wisconsin Conference Player of the Year for a second straight season. Brookens finished the year with a team-high 18 goals and five assists, while leading the Hillmen (10–7–3, 9–1 SWC) to a third-straight SWC title. Brookens finished her fantastic four-year varsity career with 81 goals, which ranks third all-time in program history behind Brianna Murphy (137) and Caitlin Murphy (116).
Hayden Handyman, Sr., Darlington baseball
Hardyman had one of the Redbirds’ four hits and scored the team’s lone run in last Tuesday’s 8–1 WIAA Division 3 sectional semifinal loss to Wisconsin Heights.
Maranda McCarthy, Sr., P, Iowa–Grant softball
McCarthy was recently named the SWAL Player of the Year after leading the Panthers to a 21–3 overall record, a conference title and the program’s first berth in the WIAA sectional finals. McCarthy went 21–3 with a 2.27 ERA, 147 strikeouts and 34 walks in 142 innings pitched. She also hit .356 (26-for-73) with nine doubles, one triple, four home runs, 16 RBIs and 12 runs scored in 24 games. McCarthy closed out her final season by playing in the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association All-Star Classic on Tuesday.
Maddie Rand, Sr., 3B, Belmont softball
Rand was recently named the Six Rivers West Player of the Year after finishing the season with a team-high .482 batting average, 54 hits, 17 doubles, two triples, two home runs, 21 RBI and 52 runs scored and team-best 33 stolen bases. She was also one of the top defensive players in the conference. Rand helped the Braves to a 28–3 record, a perfect 14–0 mark in the Six Rivers Conference and a berth in the WIAA Division 5 state tournament.
Jordan Reuter, Jr., OF, Lancaster baseball
The Lancaster junior outfielder went 2-for-4 and drove in all four of the Arrows’ runs in last Tuesday’s WIAA Division 4 sectional final loss to La Crosse Aquinas. Reuter had a two-run single in the third and a two-run single in the bottom of the seventh to provide the final 11–4 margin.
Sadie Willborn, So., P, Belmont softball
Willborn was recently named the Six Rivers West Pitcher of the Year after leading the Braves to a 28–3 record, a perfect 14–0 mark in the Six Rivers Conference and a berth in the WIAA D5 state tournament. Willborn compiled a 19–3 record with one save, a 1.17 ERA, 151 strikeouts and 35 walks in 126 innings. She only allowed 21 earns runs in 24 games pitched. She also batted .413 with 38 hits in 92 at-bats, nine doubles, one triple and a team-high 35 runs batted in.