Competitive play in WB6 loss shows progress QHS softball team is making


Quincy High School catcher Kate Mettemeyer gets set for a pitch during Thursday's Western Big 6 Conference matchup with Sterling at the QHS field. | Samantha Carmean photo

QUINCY — From Darrell Henze’s perspective, the glass remains half full.

Sure, the Quincy High softball coach watched his club drop a 15-6 Western Big 6 Conference game on a breezy Thursday afternoon to undefeated Sterling, but Henze was far from despondent. 

The Blue Devils, now 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the conference, are working their way through a series of injuries and ailments — primarily involving the team’s pitching staff — and Henze considered the loss to a strong Sterling team more of a blip on the radar than any sort of  developing trend.

“I’m pleased, very pleased with where we are at a couple of weeks into the season,” the ninth-year coach said. “I loved the way we were hitting the ball today and the way we looked on defense. We can build on this.”

Henze feels Quincy is continuing to improve, and a look back at where the Blue Devils stood early in 2022 seems to underscore his sentiments. A year ago, the Blue Devils got off to a 2-13 start.

Quincy’s two WB6 losses have come to teams expected to be in the thick of this spring’s pennant pursuit. The Blue Devils’ other league setback came to Geneseo.

Sterling remains unbeaten at 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference.

Henze knows how difficult it is to compete in the WB6. He’s a student of both the league and the sport.

“The conference has won 27 state softball tournament trophies, and 12 of those have been state titles,” he said. “There’s no other sport in the conference that can claim that kind of success.”

Sterling coach Donnie Dittmar, while not stepping out on any sort of limb when it comes to early season predictions, admits his club is focused on the long haul.

“Let’s just say we have goals, and we’re going to try and reach them,” Dittmar said.

Sterling’s degree of success will be built largely around junior pitcher/slugger Sienna Stingley, who went the distance against Quincy. Stingley struck out eight and walked three. Of the six runs she allowed, only two were earned.

At the plate, Stingley, who bats clean-up, went 4 for 4 with a game-high three RBIs. She also stole a base.

“She’s a great player,” Dittmars said. “She works hard and the results show.”

Stingley’s pitching line could — and probably should — have looked much better, but the Golden Warriors’ defense let her down late in the game, especially in the sixth inning when Quincy scored four times.

“We’ve got some things we need to clean up,” Dittmar said.

To Quincy’s credit, the Blue Devils were able to consistently move the ball against Stingley, but failed to keep Sterling off the board in six of its seven at-bats. The Golden Warriors led from start to finish and scored two or more runs in five of their seven at-bats, including 10 runs over the closing three innings.

Six different Quincy players recorded at least one hit, with Ariana Arnold, Paige Kurfman and Kayden Smith each collecting a pair. Avary Hlubek had the Blue Devils’ lone extra base knock with a double. Hlubek, Sofi Sangrey and Smith each stole a base.

Quincy starting pitcher Jaylen Lubbert (0-1) worked into the seventh inning, with Smith finishing up. Both girls are trying to work through a variety of nagging injuries and have drawn Henze’s admiration.

“Jaylen gutted it out today,” Henze said. “She showed what kind of competitor she is. She puts her team ahead of everything else.” 

Lubbert threw a season-high 110 pitches before exiting.

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