Longtime teammates, friends will continue softball journeys

Josie Klein was recently named the SLC player of the year. She will play for the BATS academy this summer and D3 Lake Forest College in the fall. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

 

By Andrew Horschak

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

Teammates going back to their days playing for the 10U Wisconsin Lightning, Josie Klein and Jaina Westphal made their final season together one to remember as captains of the WIAA Division 1 state runner-up Burlington softball team.

While they led the Demons on and off the field, the senior dynamic duo had plenty of help along the way.

“Throughout the whole season, I’ve been so honored to be the captain of this team,” Westphal said. “We weren’t the only leaders, though. We had so many other girls step up to the plate to offer inspiration and energy to keep us going. When we were down (in the sectional semifinal vs. Elkhorn), we had girls saying, ‘We’re not done yet. We can still do this.’

Klein, named the Southern Lakes Conference Player of the Year after helping the Demons secure their first conference title in more than three decades, said advancing to Madison was the perfect

Jaina Westphal played error-free softball and hit .800 during the 2018 state tournament earlier this month. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

culmination as a varsity player.

“One of my dreams throughout my whole softball career was to go to state,” she said. “It was just awesome to be able to do that and it was just awesome to lead our team this far (as a captain).”

And, as expected, Klein and Westphal both performed admirably in their state tourney debut.

Klein picked up two wins in the circle and pitched all 20 innings in three games. She also drove in two runs in a semifinal victory over Slinger.

Providing a spark from her leadoff spot, Westphal went 8-for-10 in the tourney with two doubles, a triple, three RBI, three stolen bases and five runs scored. She was also error-free at second base.

“Her energy,” Klein said when asked about the best attribute of her friend and fellow first-team All-SLC selection. “She just has so much energy and passion and drive for the game.”

After a brief break, the two will begin their busy summers with their respective club teams. Klein plays for Mequon-based B.A.T.S Academy, while Westphal plays for the Beverly Bandits out of Chicago.

“We’re on different teams in the summer, but we would still see each other at tournaments,” Westphal said. “This summer there are no tournaments that match up. We’re not going to be together anymore. I won’t see her that much. It’s really sad.”

Then, it will be off to college and even more softball. Klein is heading to NCAA Division III Lake Forest College, while Westphal is heading to NCAA Division I Valparaiso University in Indiana.

“I’m so excited,” Westphal said. “I just got back from orientation. I slept in the dorms. I picked out my schedule. It’s getting so real.”

As they pack for their college destinations in a couple months, Klein and Westphal will also take with them some special memories from an exhilarating state tourney run.

“Being there in the crazy atmosphere,” Westphal said, “looking up in the stands and seeing all of my friends and family and people I didn’t even know come support Burlington was just an amazing feeling that I will never forget.”

 

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