Kaiserslautern takes softball, soccer championships; Ramstein boys win track title

by Thomas Warner
contributing writer

Several area schools saw their teams advance to the late rounds of this past weekend’s DODEA Europeans spring sports championships and two from Kaiserslautern won it all. The Kaiserslautern Lady Raiders won the school’s first-ever softball crown and the Kaiserslautern soccer boys repeated last year’s championship by securing another Division I crown.

Ramstein High also enjoyed success, taking the boys’ team title at the track and field competition after the Lady Royals soccer squad fell in the closing minutes of their title match with Stuttgart. Ramstein and Stuttgart were tied 0-0 after regulation time expired and it was Stuttgart winning an extra session shootout to take the plaque. Kaiserslautern’s baseball boys also made it to the finals, but were knocked off by Lakenheath in the late innings.

Over the next few weeks, we will run larger reports on various sports championships tournaments that were happening at the end of May around the Kaiserslautern Military Community. We will provide more in-depth reports and exhibit photographs of all the sports activities our various schools were involved in to close the 2017-18 school year.


SOFTBALL

Kaiserslautern makes school history
with first girls’ diamond title

Kaiserslautern met Ramstein in the semifinals at Kapaun base and overcame a three-run deficit to win 5-4. That win set up what many might have seen as an anticlimatic finals date with Lakenheath, but KHS had to fight for its life and overcome another big deficit to win 9-8.

Euros softball MVP
Phoenix Whisennand

Chloe Whissenand had the final RBI-hit to bring home the winning runs as Kaiserslautern and it’s many fans celebrated what had never been done at the school. Senior standout Phoenix Whisennand threw a complete game against Ramstein then relieved Ally Alamos in the title game, capping an extraordinary diamond career with the Lady Raiders. She was named Euros most valuable player.

“My arm is exhausted but I’m so excited … we had to push through a lot today,” said Phoenix Whisennand. “I waited four years. We’ve always gotten third or fourth. This time we are champs.”

Lakenheath’s runner-up award came after the Lady Lancers had scored seven runs the fourth frame but KHS freshman outfielder Hin Hyunh had a triple, two doubles and four total hits batting from the ninth spot in the order to fuel the Lady Raiders’ comeback. Hyunh and others near the bottom of the batting order bolstered the heavyweight senior class of the Whisennand twins, Alamos, and Victoria Jackson who also were instrumental over the course of Europeans tournament play.

Senior producer Victoria Jackson threw across for a putout, over her ducking senior teammate Phoenix Whisennand, as Kaiserslautern won a softball championship. Photo by Thomas Warner

“It was a long day and it was a hard day, I’m so proud of these girls for continuing the overcome adversity and never quit … they just never quit,” Kaiserslautern head coach Jesse Costa said. “This team lost against Vilseck (this past Friday) but they came back out and beat Vicenza to make it into the semifinals. Ramstein was tough to meet up with again … Ramstein is always going to come ready to play because they are well-coached and have really good players. We just had to treat every game at Europeans as just another opponent. We couldn’t treat any game more important than any other one. Lakenheath, Ramstein, us … the tournament was filled with good teams.”

SOCCER

Rimmler, Jankowski, Zorrilla, Ard  help Raiders to second straight DODEA championship

Kaiserslautern did what many area soccer enthusiasts thought was impossible, zooming through Europeans tournament play without a loss and beating Stuttgart for the Division I championship. The Raiders took their second straight DODEA title despite graduating a good number of starters from last year’s title team. A 1-1 tie with Ramstein was their toughest match, but goalkeeper Enrico Ard was hard to get past at Euros.

“They worked hard and came through a lot of adversity to win it this year,” said Kaiserslautern coach Dominic Stumpf. “Many of these guys had never played the positions we asked them to play and they had to learn how, so it took time for us to come together.”

Though many doubted it would happen, Kaiserslautern took the Europeans tournament title for a second straight season. Photo by Evan Willingham

The Raiders struggled to find their image early on and actually lost 4-1 to Stuttgart at the start of the regular season. Last weekend, sophomore Philipp Rimmler was named Euros tournament most valuable player and his mother, a KHS assistant coach, said his chemistry with seniors Pablo Zorrilla and Tyler Jankowski was one of several aspects in the team’s title trek.

Euros soccer MVP
Philipp Rimmler

“They formed what we called our “triangle” and they really controlled things inside that space, giving us opportunities to do so many things at both ends of the pitch,” said Lisa Rimmler. “Every player on this roster gave us an ingredient for success and they had the best coach you could find in Dom Stumpf. All of them followed Coach Dom and bought in when he gave directions. He is the main reason this team did what it did.”

BASEBALL

Lakenheath edges past Kaiserslautern in final innings for championship

The Raiders got past Wiesbaden 8-7 in the semifinals thanks to solid pitching by Nolan Sherman late in the game. That set up a meeting with Lakenheath;  making its second straight championship game appearance.

“The title game was a real classic and it’s what a championship game ought to look like,” said KHS coach Justin Bates. “We hit the ball hard all day and so did Lakenheath. It was 5-5 going into the last innings and they put up four there at the end with some really hard-hit balls that stayed fair along the lines. We were making our second finals appearance in the past three seasons but Lakenheath was sort of on a mission, too.”

Lakenheath and Kaiserslautern played evenly through five innings before the Raiders were edged out in the Euros championship game. Photo by Evan Willingham

Ramstein also found a spot playing in the Saturday semifinals, but lost in the last inning to Lakenheath. That turned the tables from a year ago, when it was Ramstein beating LHS in a down-to-the-wire Euros title game. The Lancers had new coaches this season but still featured several of the same players who’d come so close in 2017.

Ramstein wound up in fourth place after losing 8-1 to Wiesbaden in the consolation game. The Warriors and Royals had staged a mammoth clash during the final stages of pool play and it was on both teams’ minds that they wanted to meet up again. As it stands, Ramstein returns all but two of its players next season and will be in position during head coach Travis Shoffner’s second season to potentially advance deep into Euros play.

TRACK AND FIELD

Branch, Serrano, Horton end stellar careers at schools

Jada Branch won the long jump and triple jump, as well as breaking a DODEA record with her time of 57.28 seconds in the 400 meters. Branch was edged by Wiesbaden’s Whitney Bivins in the 200 meters but finalized a productive career at Kai-sers-lautern High during which she established herself as one of the greatest to ever wear the Raider red.

Baumholder hurdler Solo Turgeon raced with the big schools and kept pace, tying for a win in the 110 meter hurdles with Wiesbaden’s Garrett Armel, then placing second in the 300 hurdles when he was nipped at the tape by Wiesbaden’s Caelum Wallace. Baumholder’s boys easily won the Division 3 team crown, with high jump champion Nathaniel Horton being named top overall athlete for field events.

The track title for Ramstein was not unexpected, since the Royal boys won just about every meet they entered. Strong showings in the relays helped them throughout the season and coaches constructed the best groupings for the last relay races Saturday based on earlier meet qualifications.

Ramstein’s 4×800 meter relay team took first place at Saturday’s Europeans Meet. (From left) Coach Kyle Cranston, Nick Clinton, Nick Blake, Denver Dalpais, Jose Serrano, Coach Mick Thomsen.Photo by Evan Willingham

Wins in the distance races were highlighted by a sweep of five out of the top six places in the 3,200 meter run and three of the top four spots in the 1,600 meters. Euros MVP Jose Serrano won first place in both of those races, edging teammate Dash Rogers twice at the tape. Serrano also nipped fellow Royal runner Nick Clinton in the 800 as Ramstein took four of the top five places in that event. Denver Dalpais and Jackie Harris also finished high in events for Ramstein to gain points toward the team title.