EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Sadie Willborn, Sr., P, Belmont softball
Willborn was magnificent her entire senior year, but came up huge in the biggest games. Willborn pitched a six-inning shutout in the WIAA D5 state semifinals to lead the Braves to a 15–1 victory over Tri-County, then held undefeated and top-seeded Blair–Taylor to just one unearned run in Belmont's 7–1 victory in the D5 state title game two days later.
Willborn went 2–0 with a perfect 0.00 ERA and 14 strikeouts, allowing one unearned run on six hits in 13 innings pitched at the state tournament. She also helped her own cause going 4-for-7 at the plate with three RBIs in Belmont's two wins.
The same week, Willborn was also named the Six Rivers West Player of the Year for a second straight year after leading Belmont to a 26–1 overall record after going a perfect 14–0 in the SRW to win a fifth straight league title, and helping the Braves clinch their second state title.
Willborn finished the year with a 26–1 record, a 0.73 ERA, 254 strikeouts and 62 walks in 172 innings pitched. She allowed just 18 earned runs in 27 games this year. At the plate, Willborn finished second on the team with a .431 batting average and 38 hits, while posting a team-high 13 doubles, 18 RBI and led the team with 18 walks. Her .519 on-base percentage was tops on the team.
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Nikki Knebel, Sr., SS, Belmont softball
The senior shortstop helped the Braves win the WIAA Division 5 state title by going 3-for-7 with a walk, three runs scored, two RBI and three stolen bases in Belmont's 15–1 state semifinal victory over Tri-County and 7–1 state championship game victory over top-seeded Blair–Taylor. Knebel, a four-year starter for the Braves, also earned first-team All-Six Rivers West honors for a second straight year after leading the Braves in batting (.438), hits (39), home runs (6), RBI (31) and runs scored (34). She also had six doubles, one triple, 13 stolen bases and 10 walks in 27 games for the 26–1 Braves.
Lydia Murphy, Sr., MF, Platteville/Lancaster girls soccer
Lancaster senior midfielder Lydia Murphy was named the Southwest Wisconsin Conference Player of the Year for a second straight year after leading the Hillmen to a 13–5–2 overall mark, a perfect 10–0 record in league play and a berth in the WIAA Division 3 regional finals before a 1–0 loss to Sugar River ended the season on June 1.
Murphy, who was also named first-team All-SWC for a fourth time, finished the year second on the team in scoring with 12 goals and seven assists, but her biggest contribution to the team was her ball-handling ability that allowed the Hillmen to control the midfield by dominating possession in most matches this year.