Courtney Wallace has served up a bundle of "wow" moments during her high school softball career.
One of the most recent was a laser shot that left its mark on a firetruck.
The Papillion-La Vista senior blasted a low line-drive home run that quickly zipped over the center field fence and smacked a parked fire engine that was sitting about 30 feet behind the field. According to Papio coach Todd Petersen, the ball nearly hit the father of teammate Jordyn Bahl, who was sitting atop the truck with some co-workers.
"I'm telling you, if that truck wasn't there, I think it would have hit above that garage," Petersen said, pointing to a house on the other side of the street.
When Wallace was little, she wanted to try gymnastics. But softball immediately become her calling. Several years later, she dominated the Nebraska high school scene, throwing strikeouts, piling up stolen bases and hits, and one home run shot off a fire engine.
Wallace sure knows how to hit her marks. Considered one of the most athletic players to play on the diamond, Wallace, who committed to Nebraska as a freshman, is the 2017 Journal Star Super-State honorary captain.
A look at the Journal Star's Super-State and all-state softball teams.
In addition to big numbers, Wallace has eye-popping speed, and when she hits a ball square. …
"It's a thing of beauty," her coach says.
"When I watched her, the thing I liked was she has a very calm, confident demeanor about her, and I think the rest of the team plays off of that," Lincoln East coach Lance Kingery said. "You knew you were playing someone special when you played her."
Petersen said Wallace took a big step forward as a junior when she emerged as one of the state's top pitchers and hitters. She flourished even more as a senior, going 18-1 with a 0.28 earned-run average in the circle, while hitting .504 with 10 doubles, nine homers and 35 RBIs.
The numbers are flashy. They look good on paper. But Wallace's focus was on helping her Monarch team win a Class A state crown after runner-up finishes in 2015 and 2016.
In the state final against Lincoln Southwest, Wallace opened the game with a leadoff homer. She was in the circle when the Monarchs recorded the final out to seal the school's 14th state title.
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P | Courtney Wallace, Papillion-La Vista
Year: Senior | College: Nebraska
Stat that jumps out: Wallace's season ERA of 0.28 was the lowest in the state since 2009, and is the lowest since the pitcher's rubber was moved back to 43 feet in 2010.
Impact: Wallace can beat teams with her arm, her bat and her speed — the total package. She went 18-1 in the circle, fanned 162 batters and pitched the final out in the Class A state final. Offensively, Wallace batted .504 with 10 doubles, nine homers, 35 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
Coach's take: "When I look at her I just think athlete. That's the first word that comes to mind. It's a small part of her game, because of all the things she does, but honestly it's her running. When you watch her run, you go 'Oh, my gosh.'" — Papillion-La Vista coach Todd Petersen
P | Jordyn Bahl, Papillion-La Vista
Year: Freshman | College: Nebraska
Stat that jumps out: Bahl's ERA was 0.88, the second-best mark in the state behind teammate Courtney Wallace.
Impact: Behind a strong drop ball, Bahl did not play like a freshman, splitting innings with Wallace and finishing with a 17-1 record and 151 strikeouts. When not in the circle, Bahl showed steady play at third base and hit .437 with five homers and 26 RBIs. She was not fazed by the big stage at state, pitching a four-inning no-hitter with 10 strikeouts (she faced 12 batters) in the opening round against Grand Island.
Coach's take: "Besides that, she's just a really good player, it's just her maturity. She's mature beyond her years. The state tournament, obviously that's a bigger stage, but I didn't really have any concerns about it because she had been doing that all year." — Papillion-La Vista coach Todd Petersen
P | Kate Rehberg, Millard North
Year: Junior | College: Michigan
Stat that jumps out: Rehberg has struck out a combined 625 batters over the past two seasons, including a school-record 322 this year.
Impact: Once Rehberg got into a rhythm with all of her pitches, she was hard to beat. The hard-throwing right-hander went 21-11 with a 2.32 ERA while facing one of the state's toughest schedules (Millard North played 17 games against Class A-rated teams), fanning 40 percent of the batters she faced. Offensively, she batted third, and hit .392 with eight doubles and 27 RBIs.
Coach's take: "She got a lot tougher mentally. She rises to the occasion. Against tough competition, she doesn't mind that at all. Usually the better team ... the better she'll throw." — Millard North coach John Swoboda
P | Camry Moore, Crete
Year: Senior | College: Sioux Falls
Stat that jumps out: Moore had 119 plate appearances this season and did not strike out once against a slate that included many of the state's top strikeout pitchers.
Impact: Moore led Crete on a memorable run to the Class B state championship. In the circle, she went 28-8 with an ERA hovering around 1.00. At state, she got out of some key jams via strikeout. Moore was just as effective batting leadoff, hitting .487 with 58 hits, 52 runs scored, 39 RBIs and eight homers. She has been praised for her composure in the circle and leadership.
Coach's take: "A lot of times Cam did a good job in the third, fourth and fifth innings of just using her pitches and making people hit the ball where she wanted it to be hit so she didn't have to work her pitch count up. And then she had a little more gas in the sixth and seventh innings, and I think that's what got us over the hump in districts." — Crete coach Shawn Carr
C | Brooke Dumont, Papillion-La Vista
Year: Freshman | College: Undecided
Stat that jumps out: Dumont had seven RBIs (including two homers) in Papio's state championship final victory against Lincoln Southwest.
Impact: Just a freshman, Dumont was moved to the cleanup spot in the Monarch lineup a week into the season. From there, she produced clutch hit after clutch hit. Dumont had three homers and nine RBIs at state, and finished the year batting .448 with 12 doubles and 37 RBIs. She put the ball in play with regularity, and defensively, she had an ability to consistently block the ball, preventing teams from moving baserunners.
Coach's take: "The thing that probably gets overlooked with her is the fact is she had to handle two really good pitchers that are, in a lot ways, different in terms of where they throw. That was probably the most important thing that made us who we are." — Papillion-La Vista coach Todd Petersen
IF | Madeline Vejvoda, Papillion-La Vista
Year: Junior | College: Creighton
Stat that jumps out: Vejvoda hit a school-record eight triples this season.
Impact: A shortstop, Vejvoda produced one of the best seasons for a position player in the state this year. Called a "smart hitter" by her coach, she batted .548 with 51 RBIs, 41 runs scored, 12 doubles and 14 stolen bases. But it was Vejvoda's improvement in the field that made her a complete player. She worked closely with Papio assistant and former NU baseball player Dan Johnston to hone her defensive skills.
Coach's take: "She was always a girl that could make the amazing play, but she became the shortstop that was consistent and reliable. To see her kind of put it all together was cool to see, because she has all the tools." — Papillion-La Vista coach Todd Petersen
IF | Sam Alm, Millard West
Year: Senior | College: Creighton
Stat that jumps out: Alm set a Class A state record for career batting averaging, finishing with a .533 clip.
Impact: When it comes to hitting, Alm is a natural. In fact, Millard West coach Don Brummer says Alm is the most natural hitter to come through the school. The shortstop batted .575 with 39 RBIs, and did so while opposing pitchers pitched around her. A state game against Lincoln Southwest was a showcase of Alm's hitting prowess. She finished 4-for-4 with two homers and two doubles.
Coach's take: "Just the hands, the eyes, the whole thing. She just sees it, and that's such an advantage. Plus she works her tail off. We used to call her a cage rat. Her favorite softball drill is front toss. She loves it. Just loves it." — Millard West coach Don Brummer
IF | Carson Fischer, Lincoln Southwest
Year: Senior | College: Nebraska
Stat that jumps out: There are two. Fischer set a Class A record for hits in a season with 86 (teammate Emma Kauf had 85), and an all-class mark for RBIs with 73.
Impact: Fischer took a big leap as a senior, hitting .570 with 55 RBIs and 13 homers. Like Kauf, Fischer had a knack for hitting hard line drives, and she stepped up big a couple times at state, driving in the game-tying runs late against Millard West, and posting two homers and six RBIs in a win against Millard South. Fischer also was very good at turning singles into doubles and doubles into triples.
Coach's take: "She always been aggressive. She saw fewer pitches per at-bat than anybody I've seen. She knew what to look for and just was very confident in herself." — Southwest coach Mark Watt
IF | Billie Andrews, Gretna
Year: Sophomore | College: Nebraska
Stat that jumps out: Halfway through the season, Andrews had more extra-base hits than singles.
Impact: The most dangerous hitter in Class B and possibly the state, Andrews used a combination of power and explosiveness to hit .528 with 15 homers, 22 extra-base hits and 37 RBIs. Despite playing with a severe ankle sprain late in the year, Andrews still hit .412 during postseason play. If pitchers walked her, Andrews was able to hurt opponents with her speed on the basepaths (12 stolen bases), and her play at shortstop was superb.
Coach's take: "She impacts everybody in our lineup. When she's in the game and she's salty, it impacts everyone around her. When she's hitting in that leadoff spot, you've got two or three girls hitting behind her that are going to get better (looks), and you've got girls hitting seven, eight, nine that are going to get really good pitches to hit because she's right there. She's pretty special." — Gretna coach Bill Heard
OF | Peyton Glatter, Millard South
Year: Senior | College: Nebraska
Stat that jumps out: Glatter and the Patriots went 12-0 in four Swing for the Cure tournaments dating to her freshman season. It's a tournament that means a lot to Glatter, who lost her mom to cancer in 2014.
Impact: With Rylie Unzicker and Payton Huscroft at Nebraska, Glatter took on a bigger role for the Patriots. She became the outfield general, moving to center field, where she committed zero errors, and she remained one of the state's top hitters, hitting .484 with seven homers, nine doubles, three triples and 42 runs (from the leadoff spot). She consistently produced despite pitchers cautiously pitching to and around her.
Coach's take: "She was probably our go-to leader. The girls really respected her and didn't want to let her down because she worked so hard at it. She's so dedicated to the sport that that kind of attitude and mentality rubbed off on the other girls." — Millard South coach Steve Kerkman
OF | Caelyn Christiancy, Lincoln Southwest
Year: Senior | College: South Dakota State
Stat that jumps out: After recording four extra-base hits as a junior, Christiancy had 19 as a senior, including 15 doubles.
Impact: Christiancy's impact was huge at two crucial spots for the Silver Hawks — the leadoff spot, and in center field. A state champion hurdler, Christiancy's tracking ability and speed created a huge defensive advantage for Southwest. She batted .453 with 66 runs, 26 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.
Coach's take: "When she had quality at-bats, which was almost all of the time, she just set the tone from the beginning of the game that we were going to be aggressive and get after it. She covers a lot of ground, she gets a great jump on balls, she's got great speed, she's robbed home runs throughout her career." — Southwest coach Mark Watt
OF | Carlee Liesch, Lincoln Pius X
Year: Senior | College: Undecided
Stat that jumps out: Liesch batted .591 in postseason play (districts and state), going 13-for-22 with seven runs.
Impact: Liesch was the table-setter for a dynamic Thunderbolt lineup. Batting leadoff, she finished with 50 hits and hit .459. Once on base, she created a lot of pressure on defenses with her speed and baserunning instincts. Liesch was one of the top outfielders in the state, covering a lot of ground on the left side.
Coach's take: "Her arm is amazing. I have played softball for numerous years and I've coached numerous girls and every time she threw I was just amazed — the power she has behind her arm just to get to it to the bases or to home, but also how hard she worked in outfield as far as making diving catches side to side, or forward or back or going over the breakaway fences to try to catch a ball." — Pius X coach Christy Kruger
DP | Emma Kauf, Lincoln Southwest
Year: Junior | College: Georgia Tech
Stat that jumps out: Kauf set an all-class record for runs scored in a season with 79.
Impact: Kauf was part of a driving force for a Southwest team that set season state records for runs scored, hits and home runs. The junior second baseman tied an all-class record with 19 homers while batting .603 with 70 RBIs (second best all-time). Her consistency was unmatched, and she saw considerable growth in her second season at second base.
Coach's take: "She is just instinctive. First of all, (her) timing, and second of all, she just has the velocity of being explosive. She is able to wait until the ball gets to her spot and just explode. She's worked on that for many years and just has a gift for being able to do that." — Southwest coach Mark Watt
DP | Rachel Weber, Lincoln East
Year: Senior | College: Missouri State
Stat that jumps out: Multiple. Weber owns just about every career and single-season offensive school record.
Impact: One of the best pure athletes in the state, Weber was the engine starter for a potent East offense this year, batting leadoff. She hit .471 with 53 runs scored, 48 RBIs and 11 homers, and most of those were crushed. Called a "cerebral" player by her coach, Weber is known for putting in more work outside of practice. Weber is a natural infielder, but she provided a steady glove in center field for the Spartans.
Coach's take: "The way she plays, the approach she has to the game — she approaches it with a tremendous amount of respect, and then I can't think of one time in four years that she took a day off. She goes full-throttle all the time, which is why it's so easy to just thoroughly enjoy watching her perform." — East coach Lance Kingery
DP | Karlee Seevers, York
Year: Senior | College: Nebraska
Stat that jumps out: We'll throw out two. Seevers broke two state records — career wins (106) and career perfect games (nine).
Impact: Seevers, a three-time first-team Super-Stater, broke multiple school records at York. In 2017 alone she had 16 shutouts, six no-hitters, four perfect games, 272 strikeouts and she was able to rely on her change-up a little more. Her career ERA is 1.16. Offensively, Seevers batted third for the No. 3 Dukes, hitting .500 with six homers and 42 RBIs. She struck out only five times.
Coach's take: "I was proud of the way she improved on her preciseness of pitching with her movement, and her differentiated speeds. I felt like she really mastered a couple of those that were huge down the stretch." — York coach Danyel Seevers
DP | Olivia Douglas, Hastings
Year: Senior | College: South Dakota State
Stat that jumps out: Douglas pitched 12 shutouts, including six straight late in the season.
Impact: Like Class B counterparts Camry Moore and Karlee Seevers, Douglas was a centerpiece player for the Tigers, picking up the bulk of the innings in the circle, while also batting in the middle of the lineup. Douglas — using a combination of rise balls, drop balls and change-ups — went 28-4 with a 1.59 ERA and 195 strikeouts. She also batted .432 with 54 hits and 48 RBIs.
Coach's take: "In the past she had the ability to throw much better and I don't know if she always trusted her stuff. This year I thought she kind of went out there, threw the ball and let it go. I thought her rise ball really came a long ways this year in development, so it just added to the repertoire. It kind of changed how she pitched in games." — Hastings coach Pete Theoharis
DP | Taylor Hoelscher, Papillion-La Vista
Year: Senior | College: Missouri Western
Stat that jumps out: In 128 plate appearances, Hoelscher struck out only five times.
Impact: Not many players were as steady as Hoelscher this season. She hit .433 with 27 RBIs, 33 runs, seven doubles and nine stolen bases, while also providing a reliable glove in right field. Batting second in the lineup most of the year, Hoelscher could provide a big hit or move over the lead runner. Her coach, Todd Petersen, also praised Hoelscher for her leadership.
Coach's take: "Consistency is really the word that follows her. We could always rely on her to put the ball in play, move the runner if we had to as well as get the big hit if we needed it. She's probably the person on our team if you said, 'OK, you get to pick who you have in the situation, I would think I'd pick her in a lot of situations." — Papillion-La Vista coach Todd Petersen
"It's a goal every year (to win state), but it meant a lot especially senior year because in the past it's heartbreaking not being able to finish it and getting second place," said Wallace, a rare two-year captain in the Monarch program. "It's still a good accomplishment, but you expect to finish on top. So it was super-exciting to finish our senior year. It's like the cherry on top of the ice cream."
Wallace began playing softball when she was about 6. She and her father, John, would watch and break down YouTube videos of some of the world's biggest softball stars, such as Jennie Finch and Monica Abbott.
"He pretty much taught me how to play," Wallace said of her father.
Petersen recalls taking notice of Wallace when she was in the sixth grade. She attended summer camps and showed signs of her potential well before high school.
"In the camp stuff you do in the summer, you can have them practice with high school (players) and they would do that," Petersen said. "She probably could have started for us in seventh grade. She was that good; she was so athletic."
It was clear well before high school that Wallace wanted to be a Monarch. She and her father would watch Papio practices from outside the fence, and the family moved to Papillion from Omaha so Wallace could play in the program.
"Both my parents, they're my No. 1 fans," Wallace said. "It was super-exciting for me to commit (to Nebraska) as a freshman. It felt like all of our hard work paid off."
Wallace's game and maturity continued to trend upward in high school. In fact, it was her leadership skills that impressed Petersen the most this past season. Wallace, along with the other seniors, was asked to help lead a very young team that included several freshman starters. Among them was Jordyn Bahl, who shared the circle and third-base duties with Wallace.
Even Petersen would joke with Wallace, calling her "Coach Courtney."
"I’ve had to teach them (the freshmen), and they’ve also had to teach me," Wallace said. "I’ve never played with that many young girls, so it was a good experience to be able to play with them, to teach me how to be able to teach in different ways, because not everyone learns the same. It was a lot of fun."
She can also play anywhere in the field — outfield, second base, third base.
As for what she likes more — pitching or hitting — Wallace at first calls it a tough question, but, "if I had to choose, I'd rather have the ball in my hand."
Wallace likes the feeling of being in control on the field.
"You have the ball all of the time," Wallace said. "You and the catcher are the battery. You determine what happens. Walk a person and that could lose a game, or you could strike out a person and that could win a game. I like pressure, so I like being in charge."
Wallace did that by serving up a heavy dose of rise balls and drop balls. She also had the change-up in her pocket.
HASTINGS — The pitching combination of Courtney Wallace and Jordyn Bahl has delivered victor…
"We came into the season (thinking) we'd throw the change-up more, but she dominated so much with her rise ball that we just didn't throw it quite as often as we thought we would have to," said Petersen, who added Wallace hasn't come close to reaching her potential as a pitcher.
Wallace's 0.28 ERA was the lowest in the state since 2009, when Southwest's Becca Changstrom recorded a 0.19 ERA. Wallace's mark is the lowest in the state since the pitcher's rubber was moved back to 43 feet in 2010.
She faced 385 batters this season, and allowed only 47 hits and four — yes, four! — earned runs. She struck out 162.
Wallace's favorite stat may be "one," as in one state gold medal.
"That's something I've always dreamed of, is winning state, like dogpiling, and it actually happened," said Wallace, who has at the bottom of that celebration in Hastings.
"I couldn't breathe. But it was so worth it."