LyBarger, Jagger leave big shoes to fill for Eagle Valley
Despite a disappointing 8-6 loss to Gunnison at districts to end its season, the Eagle Valley softball team had one heck of a year, and it showed when all-league selections came out this week.
The Devils’ spectacular senior duo of Sara LyBarger and Jessica Jagger both garnered first-team Western Slope selections, along with senior Brianna Ehlert, and sophomore Amy Strakbein.
LyBarger, the team’s marquee pitcher, was also selected as the league MVP, after compiling a 10-4 record and a 2.40 ERA, along with batting .453 as the team’s leadoff hitter with a whopping .540 on-base percentage.
“She was our team MVP also,” said Devils’ coach Brad Stiles. “Sara is more of a person who led by example. She was the speed at the top of our lineup, and she was a good solid pitcher who we could count on all the time.”
Along with her All-Slope selection, Devils shortstop Jagger was also selected by The Rocky Mountain News as an honorable mention for the 3A all-state team. Jagger led the Devils in RBI on the year with 21, and had the highest batting average on the team at .474. She also led the team in home runs with two.
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“She’s just an all-around solid player.” said Stiles. “Our leader. The upcoming classes have some big shoes to fill, with those two (Lybarger and Jagger) leaving. They’re not irreplaceable, but they will be tough to replace as far as the overall package.”
Ehlert, another one of the Devils’ senior leaders at third base and outfield, was selected to the first team for her stellar play in the field, as well as her offensive output.
Hitting from the two spot behind LyBarger, Ehlert was second on the team in batting average at .472. She also only had three fielding errors on the year.
Sophomore Amy Strakbein, who shared time with Ehlert at third base, as well as playing in the outfield, was the last of the Devils all-league, first-team selections.
Hitting cleanup for the Devils, Strakbein hit .463 on the year and was second on the team with 20 RBI.
Sister Morgan, also a sophomore, who played second base and batted fifth behind Amy garnered honorable-mention honors. Morgan had a mere two fielding errors from her second base spot, and led the team in walks with 20 bases on balls.
“Amy and Morgan, their on-base percentage ended up real close to one another,” said Stiles. “Amy had more RBIs, but Morgan had more walks. They were just very solid offensively, either one of them.”
The fourth senior of Eagle Valley’s five departing upperclassmen to get an honorable-mention selection was catcher Suzy Moore.
“This year she really improved on her throwing,” said Stiles. “There were quite a few games where teams would try and steal in the first inning and she would throw somebody out. It would pretty much shut their running down for the rest of the game.”
The only disappointment for the Devils all year long was their last game against Gunnison in the district tournament. Otherwise, they were nearly perfect, going 8-0 in the Slope to win the league title, while compiling a 15-4 regular season record.
“It was a successful year,” said Stiles. “We had a devastating loss at the end, but, other than that, it was a great year. We are losing five seniors, but we have people who are ready to step up and take those places, so I am looking forward to a solid year next year, too.”
Nate Peterson is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 608 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.