Perry Softball seniors recall journey to state in 2016 as favorite memory

Libbie Randall - Sports
Alyssa Kruger swings at a pitch at recent game. PHOTO BY LIBBIE RANDALL/THE PERRY CHIEF

With five seniors on the Perry softball team this year, many memories are shared among each teammate.

Grace Stewart had her first experience with softball at the age of five when she said she started playing T-ball. From there she continued playing up until the seventh grade when she took a break before picking the activity back up with the Perry softball team during her junior year of high school.

Stewart has a lot of favorite memories being a part of this program but she says this past season was the best overall.

“It seemed like the team was closer than before and we had more fun,” Stewart said.

When asked what her personal proudest moment was in the past several years Stewart opted to share her pride in her teammate instead.

“I’m proud of Alyssa [Kruger] for stepping up this year and pitching because she is usually an outfielder,” Stewart said.

As far as the Jayette softball program overall Stewart says she likes the close-knit feel it comes with. She says although Perry is a 3A school, this one seems small because everyone is closer to each other than they would be if they went to a bigger school.

Stewart has recently joined the National Guard and plans to attend DMACC next January for a year before transferring to a four year school.

Alyssa Kruger recalls playing T-ball beginning at age four and has not missed a season yet.

What Kruger likes most about this program is that of the heart that is in it.

“A lot of girls have succeeded in the program,” Kruger said. “Ever since my eighth grade season the seniors on this team have always showed so much heart and passion that they have put into the program which has been a big part of what I have liked about it.”

Kruger’s favorite memory from the past several years came when the Jayettes won the game against Dallas Center-Grimes to take them to the state softball tournament. Kruger says the simple fact that the team could go to state after such a long time was rewarding.

“The atmosphere was great,” Kruger said. “There were so many people there that there wasn’t enough places to sit.”

Her personal proudest moment came soon after as she was able to play at the state competition. Kruger recalls spraining her ankle during the first game, but she stuck with her team and kept playing in order to contribute to her team’s hopeful success.

This fall Kruger plans to attend Iowa State University and major in Elementary Education.

Jo Diw has been playing since she was three including the times she would play for fun with her sister. Diw has played the game ever since varying between tournament teams, travel teams, and the Jayettes.

When asked about her favorite part of this program Diw simply said it is the fact that she has always felt welcome.

“There’s always someone there to pick you up if you are down,” Diw said. “If you are having a bad day there is always someone there to comfort you.”

Diw also stated Perry softball is a welcoming program that makes you feel like you will always be accepted.

Similar to her senior teammates, Diw’s favorite memory is drawn from the final moments of the game that sent the Jayettes to the state tournament in 2016. She says it was the best feeling once she realized that her and her team all came together to make that happen.

Diw’s proudest moment came soon after when she hit a home run at the first game of the state tournament.

This fall Diw will attend DMACC in Boone where she will continue her softball career. Diw plans to major in early childhood development and later become a daycare provider.

TJ Sheehy started playing the game along with three of her four other senior teammates around the age of four. Sheehy recalls playing the game ever since and participated in various leagues within Perry before branching off the tournament teams.

Sheehy’s favorite part of this program is being able to play with her teammates.

“During the summer we practically see each other everyday and it’s almost like we live together!” Sheehy said. “Just seeing them and the funny jokes we have. Even the times after practice when we would go get breakfast together is fun.”

She also attributes the great program to the community. Sheehy says several community members came together in 2016 when the Jayettes traveled to state and made a big breakfast for them all. Sheehy says the fact that people actually enjoy watching her team play makes the sport so much better.

When asked about her personal proudest moment over the past several years Sheehy said she feels as if she played the better this year than ever before.

“The past couple years I didn’t play as well as I wanted to,” Sheehy said. “There was an instance at a recent game against Carroll when I got a really good hit and was able to get on base. Then Jo [Diw] hit me in and that was amazing to be able to score that one run.”

Sheehy will be moving to Louisville this fall to attend Northwest Missouri State University where she will study radiology. Sheehy says she won’t be continuing softball at the college level, but she does plan on looking into the slow pitch intramural team NWMS has to offer.

Sidney Vancil attributes her mom to her original interest in the softball because of her history playing on the Iowa State and University of Northern Iowa. Vancil has been playing the sport since her days on her local T-ball team.

Vancil’s favorite part of the Jayette softball program is how supportive the community is.

“We always have people cheering us on and the community is always willing to help us out,” Vancil said. “When we qualified for state my sophomore season there were some organizations and businesses in the area that came out to celebrate and congratulate us.”

Vancil also stated she likes the idea that the Jayettes can overcome some biases some may have towards the team.

When asked what her favorite memory is Vancil followed the theme of her teammates by recalling the moments Perry softball qualified for state in 2016. Vancil specifically remember the moment after the Jayettes got the win and the entire team ran out to hug each other and celebrate on the diamond.

Vancil’s proudest moment from the past several years came when she was able to break one of those biases she mentioned before.

“We were playing a team at home and we had two outs,” Vancil said. “I think our opponent walked the batter in front of my because they assumed they could easily get me out and end the inning, but I ended up scoring the runners in.”

Vancil plans to attend the University of Iowa this fall where she will study pharmacy as well as run cross country and track.