DARKE COUNTY – Two seniors who are finishing their high school careers strong are this week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week.
This week’s Daily Advocate athletes of the week are Arcanum boys track and field athlete Isaac Stephens and Greenville softball player Alli Hill.
Hill hit her first career home run on Wednesday to help lead the Lady Wave to a regional semifinal victory over Clinton-Massie and advance to the elite eight of the Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament for a third consecutive year.
“To hit that first home run and everything, it just iced the cake,” Greenville softball coach Jerrod Newland said. “It was just a great picture, rounding the bases and throwing her hands up. It’s like story book.”
Newland doesn’t get emotional very often, he said, but he teared up when Hill hit her home run.
“Just so proud of her and her family,” he said.
The homer was just the latest in a series of successes for the Greenville senior, who is hitting .422 with 31 RBIs this season.
“She’s a bulldog,” Newland said.
Hill, a catcher, is a four-year varsity starter for Greenville. This year she’s been a huge part of the Lady Wave’s success as she’s helped guide freshman pitcher Baylee Petry.
“Another coach on the field,” Newland said. “It takes two to tango.”
Along with being a great catcher, Hill can play any position on the field. The Trine University commit also very unselfish and will do whatever the team needs, whether it’s coming through with an extra-base hit or laying down a sacrifice bunt.
“Just a great kid,” Newland said. “They don’t get any better than that.”
Stephens ran the opening leg of the 4×800 meter relay on Wednesday and helped the Trojans qualify for the state track and field meet.
“Isaac has been the first leg of the team all season getting us to a great start at every race,” Arcanum track and field coach Chris Kessler said.
Along with 4×8 teammates Justin Vanatta, Tanner Delk and Chance Klipstine, Stephens has put a lot of work into preparing for this season.
“Isaac never stopped training after cross country, started the indoor season in December with the other guys,” Kessler said. “They set a team goal and that was to go to the high school state track and field meet.”
Along with being a leader in the 4×800 meters, Stephens has excelled in the 800 meter run, 1,600 meter run and 4×400 meter run.
At last week’s district meet he ran a personal-best time of 2:01.65 in the 800 meters, which is second best in Darke County this season. He was disappointed that his 800 time wasn’t good enough to qualify for regionals, Kessler said, but bounced back to help lead the 4×4 team to regional qualification.
“Isaac has been great team leader to the other three teammates,” Kessler said. “He has set high standard for himself and the other teammates.”
After he finishes his high school career with Arcanum, Stephens will run collegiately for the University of Rio Grande.
“What makes Isaac a strong runner is that he puts in a lot of hours in the offseason as well as in season to get stronger as a runner,” Kessler said. “He sets goals for himself and teammates. Isaac is not afraid of hard work.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.