After missing the entire season due to Covid-19, first-year head coach Denny Helberg didn’t know what to expect as the Lady Rams headed into the 2021 spring season. The longtime Lady Rams assistant took over for Gary Rodenberger starting with the 2020 season, which was canceled.
The Lady Rams were led by a class of five seniors, senior shortstop Tristen Norden, Libby Bumb, Ellie Manley, Haylie Lero, & Sara Neff. Joining the seniors were underclassman Quinn Horn, Anna Frazier, Logan McQuillin, De’Vona Holmes, Paige Carpenter, Maren Pittman & freshman Scylea Zolman.
After a season-opening win over Patrick Henry, the Lady Rams got a confidence-boosting win at Defiance over the Lady Bulldogs, a 10-0 shutout, improving to 2-0. A GMC opening win vs Wayne Trace left the Lady Rams undefeated to start the season at 3-0.
A three-game losing streak in the middle of April put the Lady Rams back to the .500 mark at 3-3, but the ladies didn’t let that slow the momentum.
The Lady Rams got back on track over the next two weeks, winning 7 of 8 games, including a 6 game winning streak to end the month of April, a high point was a Saturday doubleheader sweep on the road highlighted by freshman Scylie Zolman’s two wins on the hill, in 2 games Zolman allowed 2 hits, 0 earned runs, while striking out 28 Leipsic batters over 13 innings.
The Lady Rams ended the month with a home shutout over Antwerp 10-0. The Lady Rams also ended the month with a 4-1 GMC record, the only loss to eventual GMC Champions, the Fairview Lady Apaches.
As they headed into May with a 9-4 record, Tinora was defeated by Liberty Center to fall to 9-5. Up next was the River Rivalry as the Lady Rams hosted the Ayersville Lady Pilots. Coach Helberg and the Lady Rams brought out the bats, defeating Ayersville 11-5 to improve to 10-5, 5-1 in the GMC. Freshman Zolman again came up big, striking out 16 in the win over the Lady Pilots as well as Tristen Norden with a three-run home run.
As the OHSAA tournament approached, the Lady Rams were awarded a home game vs Genoa. Tinora was standing at 11-6 record heading into the game vs the Lady Comets of Genoa.
After falling behind 1-0, the Lady Rams were dealt another loss in the fifth inning, losing starting pitcher Scylie Zolman to injury in the fourth inning. Tristen Norden was called upon to pitch, Norden having pitched just 2 innings all season came through in a big way. Norden pitched 2 2/3 solid innings of relief.
The game was tied at 3-3 as teams headed to the bottom of the 7th, sophomore Logan McQuillan led off with a walk. The senior Norden stepped in, sending a smash off the glove of the Genoa second baseman allowing the hustling McQuillin to score the winning run from first base in the Lady Rams dramatic sectional win, 4-3.
The Lady Rams headed to face the State Ranked Otsego Lady Nights in the Sectional Finals. Tinora was no match for the #9 ranked Lady Knights Otsego, losing 10-0.
The Lady Rams had two remaining games to make up after being eliminated from the postseason tournament.
The Delta Lady Panthers came to visit the Lady Rams in the last week of the season, Tinora with an 18-2 victory, improving to 13-7 on the season. Junior Quinn Horn with a big day, three hits, and four RBI.
On Senior Day, the Lady Rams welcomed in Holgate, who was playing in their final GMC contest before moving to the BBC in the Fall of ‘21
In a Hollywood ending, Tristen Norden stepped up with the bases loaded in her final AB as a Tinora athlete. Norden sent the first pitch she saw over the center-field fence. Tristen also recorded the final out on the mound as a Lady Ram, ending her career in storybook fashion.
Tinora went on to a 16-6 win, sending out the seniors with a win.
The Lady Rams under first-year coach Denny Helberg finished with a 14-7 record, 6-1 in the GMC.
Going out with style were Lady Rams seniors Tristen Norden, Libby Bumb, Ellie Manley, Haylie Lero, & Sara Neff. Thank you for all you did as a Tinora athlete, the memories will last forever.
Following in their footsteps will be a great-looking upcoming group of players. Quinn Horn, Anna Frazier, Logan McQuillin, De’Vona Holmes, Paige Carpenter, Maren Pittman, Scylea Zolman Tegan Norden, Paige Tong, and Tanae Smith, to name just a few.
The Lady Rams staff of Helberg, Dick Buchhop, & Kaitlyn Hearne will have a great group of girls to work with during the upcoming years. With the young arms of Zolman and Pittman, the Lady Rams should be set on the mound for the next three years.
Zolman has the possibility of reaching a very high ceiling, collecting her 150th strikeout on the season in the final game vs Holgate, finishing with 162 K’s in 2021.
Carpenter, McQuillin, & Horn will be a handful at the plate in the next few seasons as well.
Although I didn’t cover as many Lady Rams softball games as I would have liked to, the few I did were filled with excitement. A bright future awaits coach Helberg and his Lady Rams.
-Keith, Tinora Rams Live