SPASH 2003 softball team inducted into Athletic Hall of Fame
Portage County Gazette
By John Kemmeter
The 2003 Stevens Point Area Senior High School (SPASH) softball team was inducted into the SPASH Athletic Hall of Fame during a ceremony at SentryWorld Friday, Sept. 20.
After winning back-to-back WIAA Division 1 State Titles in 2001 and 2002, the Panthers retuned six starters for the 2003 season, when they went on to finish 26-0 and captured their third consecutive State Championship.
“It was a special team,” said Tom Drohner, who has been the SPASH softball head coach since 1998. “We had kids that were multi-year starters, a large portion of them were three, and some of them four-year starters that were in four straight State Championship Games.
“That definitely goes down as one of the all-time great senior groups,” he said. “We had some other really good players that were younger on that team, and then to go out as an undefeated team was spectacular.”
The SPASH softball team entered the 2003 season led by an experienced group, as center fielder Samantha Polito and shortstop Jenny Maultra started as freshmen on SPASH’s 2000 State Runner-up team, and were sophomore starters along with left fielder Lindsay Rosicky and second baseman Jill Saddison on the Panthers’ 2001 State Championship team that finished 25-2 and won the program’s first State Title since 1986.
As juniors, the four were joined in the lineup by junior right fielder Shannon Collier and sophomore catcher Korryn Brooks in 2002, when SPASH went 25-1 and beat previously undefeated Verona 5-2 in the State Championship Game to win its second consecutive State Title.
Rosicky, Collier, Polito, Jenny Maultra, Brooks and Saddison returned to the starting lineup for the 2003 season, where they were joined by senior third baseman Megan Ziolkowski, junior first baseman Jacci Seefeldt, freshman designated hitter Katie Maultra and junior pitcher Kelly Jablonski, who took over for three-time First Team All-State pitcher and 2002 Gatorade State Player of the Year Alexis Mains.
“We didn’t have tremendous power, but we did have tremendous speed, up and down the lineup,” said Drohner. “And we played great defense, we had a pitcher obviously that was undefeated in Kelly Jablonski, and you put all of those things together, and you get something special.
“And when you accomplished all of the things that that group had accomplished going into that 2003 year, having played in the last two State Championship Games, and the last three for some of them, they just knew how to win,” he said.
Guided by Drohner, the 2003 SPASH softball team also included senior Lindsay Davis; juniors Stephanie Berg, Melissa Fields and Megan Wesenberg; sophomores Molly Somers and Jaycie Fritsch; freshmen Brittany Forrest and Sarah Petersen; assistant coaches Todd VanderLoop and Bill Mansur; and manager Mitch Oksuita.
During their run in 2003, the Panthers outscored their conference opponents by a 132-16 margin to win the Wisconsin Valley Conference (WVC) Title with a 16-0 record, and then won their first three playoff games by a combined score of 22-1, capped by an 11-1 win over Germantown in the Sectional Final to advance to the WIAA Division 1 State Tournament for the fourth year in a row.
SPASH carried a 23-0 record into Madison, where it won 10-0 over Kettle Moraine in five innings in the State Quarterfinals, and took on Verona in the State Semifinals later that evening in a rematch of the previous two State Championship Games.
The game remained tied at 0-0 going into the bottom of the fifth inning, when Saddison led off with a single, and scored on a two-out double from freshman Katie Maultra to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
That proved to be the only run of the game, as Jablonski struck out one and walked none in a three-hit shutout, and SPASH won 1-0 over Verona (22-3) to advance to the State Championship Game for the fourth year in a row.
Looking to close out an unbeaten season against Appleton East (17-10) in a rematch of the 2000 State Championship Game, Ziolkowski had a two-out triple in the bottom of the second inning, and Seefeldt followed with a RBI single to give SPASH a 1-0 lead.
Rosicky and Polito each singled in the bottom of the third inning, and the Panthers followed with a RBI double from Jenny Maultra and a sacrifice fly from Brooks to increase their lead to 3-0.
Jablonski shut Appleton East down the rest of the way, as she struck out three and walked none in a four-hit shutout, and SPASH went on to a 3-0 win to join Ashwaubenon (1992-94) as the only Division 1 softball teams to win three consecutive State Titles.
Seefeldt was 2-for-3 with a triple, and Lindsay Rosicky went 2-for-3 to lead the offense for SPASH, which became the first Division 1 softball program to win four State Championships, after the Panthers also won in 1986.
“To cap off another State Championship at that time, was just a thrill,” said Drohner. “We genuinely loved being around one another, and it went all the way through our roster, one through 18, and then our coaching staff.
“We just all got along great, we were having a great time, and obviously when you win, that’s pretty special,” he said. “But I think there’s a reason that we did win; it was because of the great chemistry that we all had together.”
The 2003 State Championship SPASH softball team had seven players named to the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association (WFSCA) All-State Team that season, including First Team All-State selections in Jablonski, Saddison, Polito and Rosicky, and Second Team All-State selections in Brooks, Jenny Maultra and Collier.
A year later, Brooks, Jablonski, Seefeldt and Katie Maultra returned as starters, with 2003 reserves Forrest (left field), Petersen (third base), Wesenberg (designated hitter), Fritsch (right field) and Lang (second base) moving into the starting lineup along with center fielder Steph Precourt, as SPASH went on to finish 25-1 in 2004 and win its fourth consecutive State Championship.
Jablonski and Brooks earned First Team All-State honors in 2004 along with Katie Maultra, who ended her high school career as a three-time First Team All-State selection and the 2006 Gatorade State Player of the Year, while Petersen also earned First Team All-State honors in 2005, to give the 2003 SPASH team nine players who received First or Second Team All-State honors during their high school career.
Rosicky was selected as the 2003 WFSCA State Player of the Year and Drohner was named the 2003 WFCA State Coach of the Year, as the 2003 team finished the season by outscoring its opponents by a 192-18 margin, and ran the program’s win streak to 44 games.
“I just think about how much talent that we had, and that period of time, how good we really were,” said Drohner. “It was exciting to be part of the SPASH softball program, and I think it helped propel us on for years to come.
“And to be a part of that, and just to be around it, it was a whole lot of fun,” he said.