John Curtis Daily Union Sports Editor
Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — Several years ago Stew-Stras and Windsor High Schools co-oped their softball teams. When they had enough players to split they did. Windsor did well thanks to some outstanding individuals.
In 2008 Windsor went to the regional finals and lost to Central A&M, 8-1. In 2010, they won their 1st ever regional, beating Altamont, 1-0. They lost in the sectional to Cumberland, 5-4.
Two years ago, Windsor lost in the regional final to Cumberland, 5-1. As their numbers dwindled, Stew-Stras started to improve. Windsor’s run as a solo act was coming to a close. They were probably one year late joining with Stew-Stras.
Last year Stew-Stras beat Windsor 3-2 in the regional semi, then lost to St. Anthony in the final, 5-1. Had they played together they had a good shot for a regional title.
Last year, Stew-Stras’ record was 11-8 (6-2 NTC), taking 2nd place and 3rd place in the conference tourney.
The co-op team boasts seven returning starters from Stew-Stras and two from Windsor. Eight of 11 players from Stew-Stras are juniors and seniors. Seven of the nine Windsor players are freshmen and sophomores.
The Stew-Stras/Windsor has senior Lindsay Burton, who was a 1000 point scorer in basketball with a near double-double for her career. She catches and last year hit .442 and earned All-NTC, Effingham Daily News and Decatur area honorable mentions.
Courtney Schultz (sr.) anchors the left side of the infield and last year hit .424. She has signed to play college softball at Kaskaskia next year. They have power at the plate in 1st baseman Kennedy Ferris.
The Stew-Stras ace is junior Kendall Knop. Knop went 9-2 (6-1 NTC) last year and had a 2.83 ERA with 84 Ks in 76 innings. She hit .476. She was named ICA 2nd Team All-State, NTC all Conference, Effingham Area 1st Team and Decatur Area Honorable Mention.
Windsor brings Bayleight Tabor, a solid defensive infielder, who will put in time on the mound.
Baylee Quast (sr.) has a rocket for an arm from the outfield, while Megan Cress (sr.) uses her speed in the outfield. Becca Schlechte (fr.) will join the pitching staff, as well as play infield and catch. She will fill Schultz’ pitching slot. Windsor’s Katie Greuel (fr.), a gamer, is expected to keep developing as a varsity player.
“One advantage to co-oping is, the numbers allow us to play more aggressive JV schedule,” said SS/W coach Kyle Knop.
That will allow the JV to develop and be ready for varsity play in the future.
“Our goals are to have a winning season, compete for the conference like last year, win our regional, and advance,” Knop said. “Defense should be solid, offense solid. With Schultz out of our rotation a lot of the pitching load will fall on Kendall and we need Becca Schlechte and Bayleigh Tabor and Baylee Quast to pick up the innings and keep us in games.”
Stew-Stras/Windsor roster: Seniors- Megan Cress, Baylee Quast, Kennedy Ferris, Lindsay Burton, Courtney Schultz; Juniors-Kendall Knop, Bayleigh Tabor, Kaitlin Slifer, Skylar Vonderheide, Cheyenne Hernandez; Sophomore-Madison Quast, Mercedez Austin, Taylor Reynolds; Freshman-Becca Schlechte, Katie Greuel, Desirae Milligan, Skyler Darby, Kaylee Newkirk, Gillian Sanders, Kaitlyn McCoy. Coaches- Kyle Knop, asst. Jason Newkirk.