How do you discredit 471 strikeouts? Or 75 RBIs?
How do you snub these numbers - a 35-2 record with a 0.40 ERA - or dis those - a .514 batting average with 75 RBIs and 10 jacks?
It's simple. You don't.
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
Sophomore identical twins Nicole and Jamie Fisher were equally valuable in the Comets' 39-2 rampage through central Iowa that was BCLUW softball Version 2008.
And the numbers prove they were the area's top players in multiple categories, which is why they are the Times-Republican All-Area Softball Co-Players of the Year.
Nicole Fisher, a catcher, was the T-R's 2007 Player of the Year. She and Jamie, the area's top pitcher, were Class 2A IGHSAU first team all-state selections this season after leading BCLUW to the regional final against Turkey Valley. They were second-teamers a year ago.
2008 Times-Republican All-Area Softball Team
Players of the Year - Jamie Fisher, BCLUW and Nicole Fisher, BCLUW
Coach of the Year - David Lee, BCLUW
Pitcher - Aurora Bloom, East Marshall, Sr.; Jami Boege, GMG, So.
Catcher - Hannah West, Marshalltown, Sr.
Infield - Cory Bacon, GMG, Sr.; Lauren Lockhart, Marshalltown, So.; Cass Ringena, AGWSR, Jr.; Jordan Loney, Marshalltown, Fr.; Molly Underwood, West Marshall, Fr.
Outfield - Kris Penick, BCLUW, Sr.; Emily Swartz, South Hardin, Sr.; Haddie Vawter, BCLUW, So.
Utility - Brittny Edwards, East Marshall, Sr.; Morgan Halupnick, North Tama, So.; Whitney Sowers, Marshalltown, Fr.; Alyssa Whitmore, East Marshall, 8th
Andrea Cashin, BCLUW, Sr.; Jenny Gienger, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Jr.; Nicole Haywood, South Hardin; Erin Herink, North Tama, Fr.; Emily Hunt, Marshalltown, So.; Kelsey Jenkins, Marshalltown, So.; Katie Kielsmeier, South Hardin, Sr.; Rose Koester, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Jr.; Kacie Mathern, GMG, Sr.; Krista Morris, BCLUW, So.; Amanda Speake, Colo-NESCO, Sr.; Macy Ubben, AGWSR, Jr.
And here's the scary part: With two years left, there's still room for improvement, says Comet head coach David Lee.
"They're never satisfied with what they've done," said Lee. "They have a tremendous desire to be better players. And in my mind, that's how good players become great - they're not satisfied with being good.
"They make everyone around them better."
The two have been playing since their T-ball days dating back to second grade. When the summer season ends, they play in a fall league. When fall turns to winter, they pitch and catch in the gym every Sunday. Come spring, they're at it 2-3 times a week, and then back to every day in the summer.
"Every time you say, 'Do you want to work out?' their answer is yes," said Lee. "Not 'we're going to a movie,' not 'we're going out with our friends.'"
The end results make it worth their time, said Jamie Fisher.
"It's fun and the people we practice with make it fun," she said. "And it pays off in the summer."
Lee compared the Fishers' strength and competitive will to that of their mother, Linda (Whannel) Fisher, whom he also coached. Jamie Fisher's 0.40 ERA broke Linda's school record of 0.51 that had stood since 1982.
Jamie also achieved single-season program records in winning percentage (.946) and strikeouts. According to Quikstatsiowa.com, only Turkey Valley's Meagan Novotny (506) had more strikeouts than Jamie's 471.
Jamie, who is 77-10 for her career, walked just 28 batters this season and has 902 career strikeouts in 599 innings.
Opponents hit just .122 against her. She averaged 1.9 strikeouts per inning, logged a 19-strikeout game and struck out 10 or more batters 32 times.
All that after coming off a 24-5 freshman campaign.
"Jamie could have the attitude of 'I'm pretty good' after last year, but no, she developed another pitch (an offspeed riseball) and late in the season she had the slow curve down around the knees," said Lee. "She has the capability of throwing in the mid 60s when her adrenaline is going. The big thing for Jamie to go (to a) major college - because I think she's that good - is to be able to get the ball where she wants it, when she wants it there, and to do that with the hard stuff and the offspeed.
"And if Nicole hits the next two years like she hit this year, she's going to have everybody looking at her."
Nicole broke the school batting records she set last year in hits (72) and RBIs while tying the home run record with 10.
According to Quikstats, her 75 RBIs were tops in the state, and 25 better than her next closest competitor - North Scott's Hallie Eller.
"Yeah," said Nicole, "but people have to get on base for me to get RBIs. The credit goes to the team."
Nicole has driven home 137 runs while hitting better than .500 over the last two seasons - during which the Comets set and reset the school record for wins, added two more league titles to their credit and twice dropped heartbreakers in regional finals.
Every chance Nicole got, she worked on hitting, Lee said.
"She's not the kind of girl who says 'I've arrived,'" said the coach. "She's doing things to be better. As a catcher she got quicker from touch to throw. She got stronger, and smarter about not wasting throws. (Offensively) she's really able to focus - kind of like a guy; most girls can't do that - and watch the ball off the hip, and stay with it.
"She never got in a strikeout slump," Lee added. "We say if you hit the ball, it's eventually going to go through, and you can't worry about not getting on base.
"Nicole is strong enough that she can hit a bad pitch out."
Jamie and Nicole Fisher weren't the only athletes making heads turn on the diamonds this summer.
Following is a look at the rest of the Times-Republican's 2008 All-Area Team.
East Marshall senior Aurora Bloom, a 2A third-team all-stater, returns to the T-R's first team after posting a 20-5 record with 179 strikeouts while also batting .325 with three homers and 23 RBIs.
GMG sophomore hurler Jami Boege earned 1A all-state honorable mention selection with a 16-11 record that included 155 strikeouts in 174 innings and a 2.05 ERA. She also batted .313.
An all-area first-teamer for the second straight year, Marshalltown senior Hannah West has been a relentless leader on the infield. She batted .311 with six doubles and a team-leading 27 RBIs while fielding at a .951 percentage.
A three-time all-area first-teamer, GMG senior shortstop Cory Bacon capped a stellar career with another solid season. She batted .500 with two doubles, nine triples, three homers, 18 RBIs and 32 runs scored. The Wolverines' top offensive threat stole 20 bases and had a .815 slugging percentage.
Lauren Lockhart, Marshalltown's hard-hitting first baseman, hit .298 with 11 doubles, two home runs and a .416 on-base percentage. At first she made only one error in 394 chances (.997).
Ask AGWSR head coach Scott O'Brien who his leader is. His answer: Cass Ringena. The junior third baseman was among the state's best. The 2A all-state second-teamer hit .487 with 52 runs, 10 doubles, three triples, nine home runs, 26 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.
Marshalltown's freshman shortstop Jordan Loney makes her second straight all-area first-team appearance after batting .370 with six doubles, a triple, 16 RBIs and a team-leading 37 runs scored.
Molly Underwood's size doesn't intimidate, but her bat does. West Marshall's freshman shortstop led the Trojans in nearly every offensive category - batting .376 with four triples, two home runs, 21 runs scored and 14 RBIs. She slugged at a .554 clip in her second season as a starter.
Make it four straight all-area selections for BCLUW senior Kris Penick. A three-time first-teamer, Penick earned third-team 2A all-state after batting .420 with 55 runs, 33 RBIs and 31 stolen bases. She graduates as the school's career hits record-holder (217).
On and off the field, South Hardin's standout was Emily Swartz. The senior center fielder led the Tigers with a .431 average, adding 22 runs and 13 RBIs. She was also one of 20 statewide selections to the IGCA Academic All-State team.
A speedy sophomore center fielder, Haddie Vawter is an up-and-comer in the BCLUW program. She batted. 376 with 32 runs and 38 stolen bases for the 39-2 Comets, having taken the next step after serving primarily as a courtesy runner as a freshman.
East Marshall senior second baseman Brittny Edwards batted .360 and led the Mustangs with 29 RBIs in earning her first all-area first-team selection.
North Tama's versatile sophomore Morgan Halupnick scored nearly one-fourth of her team's runs this season, leading the Redhawks with 21 tallies. She batted .347 and stole a team-leading 32 bases while also earning three of North Tama's five wins in the circle.
A second-year starter on Marshalltown's talented young infield, freshman third baseman Whitney Sowers led MHS with a .381 batting average, 53 hits, 12 doubles and 27 RBIs.
One of the most promising prospects in the area rests with East Marshall eighth-grade shortstop Alyssa Whitmore. The all-NICL West utility pick led the Mustangs with a .442 batting average, 10 doubles and three triples.
Andrea Cashin, sr., BCLUW; Jenny Gienger, jr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck; Nicole Haywood, so., South Hardin; Erin Herink, fr., North Tama; Emily Hunt, so., Marshalltown; Kelsey Jenkins, so., Marshalltown; Katie Kielsmeier, sr., South Hardin; Rose Koester, jr., Gladbrook-Reinbeck; Kacie Mathern, sr., GMG; Krista Morris, so., BCLUW; Amanda Speake, sr., Colo-NESCO; Macy Ubben, jr., AGWSR.