EFFINGHAM — History.
How about twice in one calendar year in two separate sports.
That’s what the St. Anthony Bulldogs did in 2023 in softball and volleyball. The school advanced to state in Class 2A softball for the first time in the spring and then again in volleyball just over one week ago.
Head softball coach Makayla Taylor was a part of the softball team’s third-place finish during the spring and she couldn’t be happier to see them continue the success into the fall.
“These girls are just continuing to put St. Anthony on the map,” Taylor said. “It means a lot to me that they are multi-sport athletes and not just good at one thing. I preach to them to do all sports because I always enjoyed playing all of them. I’m really proud of how hard they work in whatever sport is in session.”
Taylor has seven players that were on both history-making runs — and they are all seniors.
Addie Wernsing was the starting second baseman and setter. Abbi Hatton was a starting outfielder and outside hitter. Stacie Vonderheide was a starting outfielder and setter. Hailey Niebrugge was a starting catcher and came off the bench as a defensive specialist. Maddie Kibler was the usual starting catcher — but was hurt for her junior year — and is the starting libero and Nora Gannaway came off the bench as a courtesy runner and comes off the bench as a defensive specialist.
Taylor was in the stands to watch the volleyball team at state. She joked that she doesn’t know how parents handle the stress.
“I truly think it is hard being in the stands watching. I don’t know how parents stay cool, calm and collected,” Taylor laughed. “But, all jokes aside, there is no other feeling than a run at state. Witnessing them make history again gives me goosebumps and how much drive and determination they have is truly heart-warming to see. I’m so happy for the players, coaches and families because it is an unmatched feeling.”
Taylor added that the adrenaline a team gains from a state run only fuels everyone for the next sport.
She said she is looking forward to another strong spring campaign come March in that regard.
“I know these girls are still hungry from last season and although we were fortunate to end our season with a win, they never stop,” she said. “They are constantly working hard in the offseason and putting the extra hours in when no one is watching. Proud is an understatement and I can’t wait to get the 2024 season going.”
Each of the St. Anthony softball and volleyball players from both state runs commented on making history in both activities.
“Most of the girls that play on the softball team also play on the volleyball team. We work hard all year-round and to see our success pay off, it really means a lot to all of us.”
“It’s really cool to come in my sophomore year and go to state in softball. It was super cool to experience that and being able to go to volleyball state is a whole new experience. To be able to go in two sports and being a new kid at St. Anthony was really a great experience for me.”
“I just know my position and I know I have to get the job done. My coaches rely on me in both sports to do what I can do best.”
“It’s really great being surrounded by this group of girls. I’ve played with them for a very long time, so just being able to share that bond with them is really special.”
“It’s a lot of the same girls when you go to a small school; the teammates are the same, so you build this chemistry all throughout the four years that you never really lose because you’re with them all of the time. It’s a surreal experience.”
“Honestly, nothing could feel better. The goal is always to end with a win at the end of the season, and we did exactly that. No one goes into their freshman year expecting to go to state three times and that’s the best feeling anyone could ever experience.”
“It means the world to us because it shows that our time in and out of season really pays off. We’ve all been blessed to just come into St. Anthony with so many athletic girls in our grade that piece a successful puzzle together and winning when it mattered in both sports just shows the heart for the game that all of us have.”
EFFINGHAM — History.