That is what the seniors of the Huron County All-Star team were given when they were selected as representatives for the Sports Force Parks All-Star game. One last chance to lace up their cleats in a high school softball game. One last chance to go out and play the game they love. One last chance to play with their teammate and one more chance to make some memories.
The Huron County All-Star team takes on the team from Erie County in the Sports Force Parks All-Star Game at 5 p.m. on Tuesday in Sandusky. On Thursday, the girls got together for a small workout and to meet their new teammates, many of which have been opponents for so many years.
“I am excited to play with people I have never played with before but have only played against for so many years,” Western Reserve’s Emmalee Cooke said. “It will be my last high school softball experience so I am ready to go out and give it my all. It is going to be a very fun team. It will be a different dynamic to the game,” Cooke said. “We are going to have to learn how to play together really quick. It will be interesting, but it will be a lot of fun.”
Cooke comes in as the reigning Firelands Conference Player of the Year and is headed to the College of Wooster to continue her softball career. She will be the primary catcher for the contest, but is likely to see time in other positions on the field. She brings some firepower to the dish with 44 hits and four homers from this season.
The Huron County team will have some nice pitching arms as well as Norwalk’s Kayla Appeman and Monroeville’s Carley Helmstetter will be the first two options on the rubber. The two combined for 375 strikeouts this season.
“It is going to be very cool to play with other people for once,” Appeman said. “I am most excited to play with these girls. It will be weird to be in the same dugout with all of these player I have played against for so long, but it will be a lot of fun and we should have a really good team.”
New London’s Kathy Vangilder and Willard’s Taylor Chaffins will also see time on the rubber for the Huron stars among others. Vangilder struck out 104 batters this season while Chaffins fanned 37.
As much pitching depth as the Huron County squad holds, there are also some big bats in the lineup. On the 18-player lineup, the ladies have combined to hit 20 home runs led by South Central’s Desiree Chill with five. Cooke has four, South Central’s Skye Mills has three and St. Paul’s Elyse Roth has two as the multi-home run hitters.
“I am really excited to be able to play in this game because it will be my last high school sporting event ever,” Roth said. “I want to go out and have a lot of fun. I always want to do well, but I would love for it to be a great experience and leave a nice lasting memory for the end. Playing first base, I got to talk to a lot of these girls during the season so I’ve tried to make great friends with all of them and it will be fun to play on the same team with them.”
Norwalk’s Kaitlyn Stoll and Western Reserve’s Taylor Good will play in their final game, but they are looking forward to playing with their teammates one final time.
“I am looking forward to playing my last game with Kayla (Appeman) by my side,” Stoll said. “It is going to be really cool to play my final high school game in an all-star setting. That is just a great way to go out. Kayla and I have played together since 10U ball and so many different teams, but is going to be very weird to never get to play with her again.”
“I am so happy that I can be here,” Good said. “When I was asked I was just thrilled to play one last time. It will be cool to also play with Em (Cooke) because we have been playing together since we were 10. It should be a great time to go out and leave it all out there one last time.”
Willard’s Emily Nedolast and Taylor Chaffins will team up a final time for their last softball game ever. Nedolast was a First Team All-Northern Ohio League selection and is headed to the Air Force in the fall. Chaffins brings in an impressive pitching resume and both are looking for a little fun to bring an end to the high school sports chapter of their lives.
“I am excited,” Nedolast said. “It is my last chance to play before going off into the Air Force so it will bring a nice end to this chapter of my life. I have played with a lot of these girls quite a bit in ASA and Abe (Helmstetter) was my coach one year so it will be fun to play with them again. I am very competitive, but I am going to try to tone that down a bit and just go out and have some fun.”
“I already thought my season was over once so it is nice to be able to suit up one more time,” Chaffins said. “We get to play with girls that we grew up playing against so to be on the same team will be a lot of fun. I wanted to get to pitch one more time so I am just thrilled to be here.”
New London’s Ashley Parr and Kaitlyn Speicher, Monroeville’s Courtney Kraft, St. Paul’s Alex Carper, Willard’s Jena Adams and Plymouth’s Janet Arnold and Emily Blanton make up the rest of the Huron County roster. Carper leads everyone with 46 hits and 40 steals from last season. Monroeville’s Abe Helmstetter will coach the star-studded squad.
“I want them to go have fun first and foremost,” Helmstetter said. “They should enjoy the experience. It is an All-Star game and it should be fun. I am excited to be able to give these seniors a good experience win or lose.”
The game is open to the public and will cost $5 for entry. Fans are permitted to bring their own chairs. The softball game kicks off at 5 p.m. with the baseball game slatted for 7:30 p.m.