Greenfield's Butts, Solberg earn NOW spots
Greenfield's Butts makes honors team for third year in a row
Shannon Butts leaves a lasting legacy as a member of the Greenfield softball team, while Andrea Solberg is still writing hers.
They were the main reasons the Hustlin' Hawks won their fourth straight Woodland Conference championship this year, as both were a force at the plate and in the field.
They were also the main reasons Greenfield earned the number one seed in its sectional and were a favorite to return to the state tournament.
For their efforts, the two have been named to the 2010 NOW Newspapers All-Suburban Softball Team. This is the third straight year Butts has made the team, which was selected by the NOW sports staff and an online fan vote.
Greenfield's loss in the sectional semifinals to South Milwaukee a couple weeks ago was not the way Butts wanted her career to end, especially with her high school graduation that same night.
"It didn't take long to hit," said Butts, a UW-Green Bay recruit. "It was pretty bad. There was a lot of crying. It was disappointing."
Butts, however, didn't disappoint too often during her four-year run.
After a banner season last year that saw Butts win the 2009 All-Suburban Player of the Year honors after hitting .482 at the plate and going 15-6 as the starting pitcher, the senior actually improved on what she did.
And that was no easy feat to accomplish.
"I just try to do my best," said Butts, whose sister, Stacey, a Division I player at Tennessee Tech, was the All-Suburban Player of the Year in 2008. "It's not really me, it's a team. One player can't do anything."
This year, with a more inexperienced team than her first few years, it seemed like Butts could do it all.
Butts started 25 of the team's 26 games, accumulating an 18-5 record along the way. She also upped her batting average more than 60 percentage points and averaged more than two hits a game.
"I just worked really hard in the offseason," Butts said. "I went through a lot of training. I'm glad it turned out that way. I never really thought it would happen."
While her remarkable career ended on a sour note, it was not without a valiant effort.
With a bad back that she played with all season, Butts almost single-handedly took her team to the next round. Like she did most of the year, she pitched a complete game, which went 12 innings, while striking out 12. She also did not allow an earned run, and went 4 for 6 and drove in two.
"She was the heart and soul of this team," coach Jack Miller said. "She had so much experience. She's such a big-game pitcher."
With Butts' high school career finished, Miller's next dominant player appears to be Solberg.
The junior wasn't on the varsity team in her freshman year, but has worked herself into the lineup and is now making a major impact.
Solberg, the Hawks' first baseman, was a reliable power hitter for Miller, as she smashed four home runs and drove in 30 runs during the regular season.
But her most impressive accomplish was the fact she didn't strikeout once in 2010, including the postseason.
Solberg offered a simple formula for her success at the plate.
"I think I settled down and was more patient this year," she said. "I waited for my pitch and didn't swing at bad pitches."
Solberg didn't want to bask in the glory of her stellar season too much. But when asked to describe Butts' legacy, Solberg didn't hesitate.
"I look up to her because she's such a good ballplayer," Solberg said. "She's a good leader. She's a four-year varsity player, so she will be missed."
→ Meet the All-Suburban Team: Player profiles and photos. Page 18
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