Let the record show that Skyview High School went out a winner.
In the last sporting event in school history, the Panthers topped Kenai Central 10-1 in 4 1-2 innings in Northern Lights Conference softball play Friday at the Soldotna Little League fields.
After the game, the Skyview players gathered on the field, sang for a moment, and released purple, black and white balloons into a sky suddenly showing sun after an afternoon of murk and rain.
“They were the last athletes Skyview had, the last of the last,” Skyview coach Steve Schoessler said of the school, which opened in 1990 and is now closed. “They came out and played well and as always they played with class.”
With a steady wind raking the field, the game had the feel of finality to it. Not only was it a curtain call for Skyview, but the Panthers softball squad honored its seniors and Schoessler has announced his intention to stop coaching area high-schoolers after a tenure dating back to 1982.
The seniors, or actually graduates, honored were Sam Reynolds, Cat Schoessler, Victoria Oberts, Mykaela Rybak, Morgan Chesley and manager Sydney Zoubek.
Coach Schoessler said all but Chesley were with the program for all four years.
“There was some emotion going around, especially after the senior awards stuff right before the game,” Schoessler said.
And what a building effort those seniors have overseen.
The Skyview softball program started in 2010 and did not get its first win until this year’s seniors were sophomores.
This year, the Panthers had their best season, finishing 4-4 to tie for third in the conference, and also finishing 7-7 overall.
“It’s been a good ride,” Schoessler said. “I’m glad to have been a part of it. We had a rocky road at the beginning but we overcame it.”
Skyview also had 30 girls out for softball. With Soldotna getting just under 30 out, Schoessler said the merger will obviously cut down on opportunities in sports.
“I think it’s going to happen in all team sports, with the exception of football, where they can always use the bodies,” he said. “That will give kids fewer chances to play.”
But Schoessler said his squad will get along with its former rival just fine, as evidenced by what happened after the two played Thursday.
“Girls from both teams went out for ice cream after the game,” he said.
Reynolds pitched all five innings, giving up one run on four hits while striking out five.
At the plate, Lynn Hesse had three runs, Cat Schoessler was 2 for 3 with three runs, Reynolds scored a run, Victoria Oberts had a run and a hit, Meghan Ussing had a run and a hit, and Marina Rodriguez was 2 for 3.
Kenai finished the season 1-9 overall and winless in the conference. The Kards got their lone run when Christina Glenzel tripled and Darian Saltenberger knocked her in.
Alyson Quartly pitched for the Kardinals and said after the game she probably threw as well as she ever has. She struck out three.
“I think there was a lot of improvement over the course of the season,” Kenai assistant Briana King said. “The seniors really stepped it up.
“All of them, not just one of them, became team leaders. There’s a lot of young girls with potential for the future.”
Schoessler is calling it quits after getting his first coaching contract with Soldotna wrestling in 1982. He said he has helped out with the wrestling programs at every high school on the peninsula. He also took on building the Skyview softball program.
“I don’t see doing it,” he said. “I feel like I need to step back. I’ve coached a lot and I’m at the age where I need to step down.”
Schoessler added that, while Skyview closing eliminates a need for coaches, he still sees a need for a new generation of coaches.
“I’d like to see a lot more young people step up into coaching,” he said.