Like most teams, the Fort Meade Lady Miner softball teams win a few and lose a few.
But ask Coach Toni Rehberg about her five graduating seniors, she’ll quickly tell you they are all winners, all the time.
The five were honored Monday night on Senior Night when Fort Meade hosted Ridge Community. Included were Stephanie Lewis, Christa Shiver, Ashley Nelson, Tabitha Rowell and Amelia Force.
“Stephanie is just of those kids that when the ball is hit out to her, you know it’s a catch, and when she’s up to bat, you know it’s a hit,” Rehberg said of her leadoff center fielder. “She’s just one of those go-to kids. She’s got a great attitude and is a natural born leader.”
Shiver has been the Miner’s mound ace all season, and plays shortstop when not on the hill.
“She’s a good leader and a hard worker wherever I put her,” Rehberg noted. “She’s willing to play anywhere.”
Rowell has served as the Miner catcher, although it wasn’t her natural position.
“She always has a positive attitude no matter what. She’s worked really hard at the catching position and become really solid over the years,” Rehberg said.
Nelson mans right field most nights.
“She didn’t grow up playing softball, but she’s been willing to learn and put everything she had into it,” the coach added. “She hasn’t let her lack of experience stop her from contributing.”
Force is spending her first year as part of the Miner varsity, but like the others brought many positive attributes to the table.
“She always has an upbeat attitude, and is willing to learn and work hard,” Rehberg said. “They are all just totally great kids.”
The Miners hoped to complete a Hollywood-like comeback Monday, but fell two runs short of an incredible comeback.
Neither team got on the board until the third inning, although Ridge threatened early and often, including loading the bases in the first before Shiver got a key strikeout on a changeup that quelled that potential scoring chance. Shiver allowed just a single in the second, but otherwise struck out the side. Two singles and a walk plated Ridge’s first run in the third before the tough fourth inning.
Ridge’s seven batters in that inning all reached base, and six scored to give the visitors a 7-0 lead. They extended it to 9-0 with a pair in the fifth before the Miners started to claw back.
It started with back-to-back walks from Nelson and Force, the eighth- and ninth- place hitters in the lineup, to lead off the bottom of the fifth. Lewis followed with one of her three hits of the night, and Shiver picked up an RBI with her single off the third baseman’s glove.
Soly Rodriguez cracked a two-run single to left, Samantha Rodriguez got an RBI on a fielder’s choice and Rowell added the final RBI of the inning with her bloop double down the left field line, cutting the Miner deficit to 9-5.
Fort Meade tacked on two more in the sixth. Lewis sparked the two-out rally with a triple to deep center. She scored after Shiver reached on an error and Rodriguez drove them both home with her single.
However, 9-7 was as close as Fort Meade would get, going one-two-three in its last at bat.
The Miners will close the regular season on the road Thursday at Tenoroc.
For Amelia Force, this is her first year of varsity softball, but she excels on the golf course, where she has been a varsity linkster for the last four years. She has also served as student council vice president. She plans to attend Polk State College and then transfer to USF to major in athletic training with a minor in science education. She has a grade point average of 3.6.
Lewis currently has a GPA of 3.8, and has been a member of the Miners varsity program for the last five years. She has also participated in volleyball and soccer at Fort Meade. She is president of the National Honor Society as well as Concert Choir. She will attend Jacksonville State University in Alabama on a softball scholarship starting in the fall. She plans on majoring in criminal justice, with a goal of one day becoming a member of the hostage and rescue team for the FBI.
Nelson has a grade point average of 3.6, and is a two-year member of the softball team. She participates in the school’s Future Business Leaders of America club and plans on attending college to study nursing.
Rowell sports a GPA of 4.16, and has been a member of the varsity softball program for six years. She is senior class president, cheerleading captain for the last two years, student council vice president, secretary of the FFA and member of the National Honor Society. She is a representative on the Student Advisory Committee as well as the Fort Meade Vision Committee. She has been a member of the drum line for seven years and is a Wendy’s High School Heismann award winner. She plans on attending Warner University on an academic scholarship and plans to major in agriculture.
Shiver has a 4.0 GPA, and also has spent six years with the Miner varsity program. She has been a varsity cheerleader for three years, and is a member of the National Honor Society. She is senior class vice president as well as the FFA. She is the student council president and a representative on the Student Advisory committee. She plans to attend college to study elementary education.