WATERLOO — Kayla Sproul knew Friday’s softball win helped her reach a career milestone.
When Waterloo Columbus routed Harlan 10-0 in a top-15 showdown at the Fort Dodge Invitational, Sproul recorded her 100th career victory as the Sailors’ starting pitcher.
That in itself was special for Sproul, who got to celebrate the moment with numerous friends and family members at Harlan and Hazel Rogers Sports Complex.
What made the day really special was not her accomplishment itself, but how the Sailors (15-3) played.
“It was a really special day because of the way we went out and won,” said Sproul, who will pitch at North Iowa Area Community College next season. “We won 10-0 against Harlan, and it was probably the best game we’ve played all year and that really made it special because everyone played well.”
That is true to Sproul’s nature, said Columbus head coach Chris Olmstead.
“She is so humble,” Olmstead said. “She is humble enough to know that is not just her. She knows she would not have been close to winning 100 games if not for the teammates she has. She gets that.”
Sproul added her 101st victory a day later and with nearly half of Columbus’ season remaining has a chance to make metro softball history. Just two other pitchers in the metro have reached the 100 win mark — Sailor Cathy Moore did it from 1985-89, posting a 100-60 mark, and Waterloo West’s Dana Happel recorded a 108-36 mark before graduating in 1990.
You have free articles remaining.
With eight more wins, Sproul will become the all-time winningest pitcher in metro history. She is 14-2 this summer after winning 28 and 32 games the past two seasons, respectively.
“She is just a model of consistency,” Olmstead said. “She is a workhorse and keeps things in proper context and framework. She doesn’t get too high or too low, and that does not mean she is not as competitive as heck. It just means she manages all those emotions and does all the grunt work day-in, day-out, and it is those small things accumulating that factors into what has made things happen for her.”
If she passes Happel, Sproul will again place the credit where she believes it is most deserved — with her teammates. That includes five seniors — Taylor Hogan, Maliyah Little, Sydney Schultz, Jalila Hart and Emma Borman — who have been contributors for the past five seasons as well as key factors in back-to-back state tournament appearances.
“It’s the team behind me,” Sproul said. “They make the plays. They make them whether they are tough or routine. It’s not like I’m doing it all myself in the circle. It never has been. There is no way I get to 100 victories without them because they are most of the reason why we are winning.”
Sproul isn’t considered an overpowering pitcher, although she has 470 career strikeouts and a career earned run average of 2.00. She is a master at spinning the ball and hitting her spots, which forces batters to hit the pitches she wants them to hit.
“She uses her spin pitches so effectively and makes people beat the ball into the ground,” Olmstead said.
With 12 games left until the postseason, Sproul said she and her teammates can still play better as they attempt to make the 3A state tournament for the third consecutive season. They all feel they have underachieved in their first two state appearances, suffering first-round losses both times.
“We’ve raised our level every game, every week and we have to continue to do that,” Sproul said. “And, if we do that, we definitely can make it back to the state tournament and hopefully, this time, crack past that first round and go deeper into the tournament.”