2017 BLUESTREAKS … The 2017 Archbold Bluestreaks include Peyton Dickman, McKenna Towns, Audrey Uyttenhove and Alyssa Ziegler, Amanda Payne, Kaitlyn Beck, Gabby Nafziger, Chloe Schramm, Faith Wyse, Kaitlynne Wood, Alexa Wilson, Leslie Simon, Madison Roth, Andee Grime, Lacie Henry and Cassidy Baden. The team is coached by Andrea Thiel, Greg Kuhlman and Justine Johnson. Managers are Maddie Thiel, Makenna Thiel and Miley Gericke.
While their season ended May 20, the Archbold High School Girls Softball team can be proud of keeping their streak of conference titles intact. The squad claimed their 12th consecutive NWOAL crown earlier this month to cap a 12-8 regular season. The finished 6-1 in the conference and took a share of the NWOAL alongside Bryan. Sadly, the Blue Streaks season came to an end with a 6-3 loss to Pemberville Eastwood in the Division III District Final at Maumee. But the squad has nothing to hang their head about with another sterling season. Senior Peyton Dickman, 17, said being on a championship team has been a good experience. The team has had its ups and downs, but has managed to persevere.
“I am so glad we came together as one,” Dickman said. “A lot of the underclassmen have stepped it up. I was very thrilled with that.” Dickman credits battery mate Alyssa Ziegler with the team’s success. The team has put players in new defensive positions and that has come together nicely for the squad. Ziegler and Dickman have been a pitcher-catcher duo since fourth or fifth grade, Ziegler said. Dickman knows her pitcher well. “I know if she is tired or having an off day, I know what she is going to do,” Dickman said. Dickman plans on working in the private sector next fall but is taking online courses through Owens Community College. She wants to be a personal trainer or physical therapist someday. A relative newcomer is left fielder McKenna Towns. She is the daughter of Williams County Sheriff Steve Towns.
The 18-year-old transferred from Bryan a couple of years ago, but likes the school and the community she represents. She will be attending Hillsdale College in the fall. She has been on varsity in Archbold for her junior and senior year. “It’s really a privilege, coming from a school that didn’t have a lot of success in this sport,” Towns said. “It’s great to see and be a part of a really long-term winning program.” The school had won 11 conference titles before coach Joe Frank stepped down.
Switching to a new head coach, Andrea Thiel, was not a problem as she had been the top assistant, the seniors agreed. “We just love playing for her in general,” Ziegler said. “She’s like our team mom,” Audrey Uyttenhove said. “She will push us, but be there when we need her too.” Uyttenhove has moved around a lot in her time with the team. She played first base, but has also been at left field and right field. She did not play in 2016. So, coming back for her senior year in a new position has been helped as the team came together as a family. Faith plays a big role as well. “Alyssa prays all our games,” Uyttenhove said. “She is really strong in faith this year. We’ve had some rocky up and down situations, but she is always praying.” The team prays before and after each game and said the entire program is supported by prayer. The girls like living in such a faith-based community. The team prayed with some players from Delta after one of their games this year. Ziegler has lived in Archbold her whole life and took up pitching in fourth grade. She has also played center field and shortstop ever since. “Being part of this program is such a blessing,” Ziegler said. “I think a lot of us take it for granted to be honest. After a bunch of people said we couldn’t make it this year, couldn’t make it twelve straight championships.
I am really proud of all my teammates for working together and proving everyone wrong.” The crowns and the wins are nice. The team had a 37- game conference winning streak snapped this year, but it’s the relationships they have formed and the legacy they have been entrusted with that means the most. “Playing for the teams and the generations before us,” Ziegler said. “Playing for them to keep the thing they started continuing.” For Thiel, the pressure of inheriting the Streak was immense. She had been the junior varsity coach for several years before becoming a varsity assistant coach. “When he announced last year that he was going to step away from coaching softball, he and I talked,” Thiel said. “I had a desire to be a head coach and I was here. We have an outstanding program with a longstanding tradition. It was a no-brainer.” Thiel told Frank she didn’t think there were any larger shoe to fill than his. Her goal was not to screw it up. The program has had only three coaches before she took over.
Barb Short won two state titles in the 1980s before stepping down. There was another coach before Frank took the helm for 15 years. She finished 6-1 in her first conference season, losing the finale to Wauseon, which brought an end to the other streak. Archbold’s regular season ended at 12-8. The team expected another long run after making it the regional finals the last two years, Thiel said. Archbold has made it to the state tournament in the last decade as well. The Bluestreaks won their playoff opener against visiting Evergreen, 7-0 May 12 and beat Otsego 2-1 May 17 before falling to top-seeded Eastwood. Thiel really appreciates her players and their faith. “They are a great group of kids,” Thiel said. “They have their heads on straight and are great teammates to each other”
© 2017, James Pruitt. All rights reserved.