One Final Start: An emotional Barkema honored on Senior Night

Shoulder surgery ended veteran’s season in early June; Hawks take a tumble

With her left arm in a sling following season-ending shoulder surgery last month, South Hamilton senior Chloe Barkema (right) embraces classmate Taylor Ratzke prior to the first pitch against Greene County on Friday in Jewell. Barkema was in the starting lineup and went out to her familiar spot at first base before she hugged all of her teammates and exited the diamond for the final time. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

JEWELL — It’s roughly 75 feet from the South Hamilton dugout to the first base bag and it’s a walk that Chloe Barkema has made more times than she can count.

But the South Hamilton senior moved a little bit slower on her final journey at the Mike Penning Athletic Complex Friday night. Her steps were more deliberate as she looked around and soaked in the atmosphere.

And when she reached the base, her base for the past three years, she couldn’t stop the tears that escaped her eyes and coated the dirt that she’s called home. The emotion of the moment only intensified as classmate and right fielder Taylor Ratzke trotted in from her spot in the grass to embrace Barkema.

“I didn’t know I was going to cry that much, but I knew it was going to be emotional,” Barkema said following Senior Night, a 3-1 loss to Greene County. “I’ve been playing since I was a little girl and this is the sport that I’ve loved forever.”

Barkema was in the starting lineup for the first time since June 7 when she injured her left shoulder while at the plate against Roland-Story. A torn posterior labrum was the diagnosis; season-ending shoulder surgery occurred two weeks ago.

Chloe Barkema tearfully exits the field for the final time on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

With her left arm in a sling, Barkema joined her teammates for the 70th start of her career on Friday. After saying goodbye to first base forever, she walked to the pitcher’s circle where the other eight Hawk starters were waiting for her with open arms.

More hugs ensued, followed by a loud ovation from the crowd as she waved and slowly made her way back to the dugout.

The final hug went to her dad and Hawks’ assistant coach, Dennis. Neither one could contain their tears at that point.

“It’s just really hard knowing that it’s almost done, especially since it was my last home game. That was really difficult,” Barkema said. “But it was so cool and the girls are all so great. They’re all really supportive and they wanted me to be out there starting.”

A staple in the South Hamilton starting lineup since her sophomore season, Barkema walks away with a .253 career batting average. She collected 50 hits, including 11 doubles, and drove in 29 runs.

Chloe and Dennis Barkema share an emotional hug prior to the start of South Hamilton’s game against Greene County on Friday in Jewell. Chloe Barkema started her 70th and final game for the Hawks. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

But it was her defense that made her such a key ingredient to a program that won 39 games in 2016 and 2017. In 420 chances at first base, she made just 10 errors, a fielding percentage of .976.

“We’ve had a lot of success and it’s just really hard to see my senior year end like this,” Barkema said. “I’m competitive and I love this game so much.”

South Hamilton could’ve used Barkema’s bat and intensity against the Rams (7-18, 5-8 HOIC), who jumped on the Hawks for two runs in the first inning to take the lead for good.

For whatever reason, South Hamilton (11-15, 5-6 HOIC) lacked the fire needed to send its seniors — Barkema, Ratzke, Marla Grubb and Katie Johnson — out on a positive note. The Hawks mustered just four hits and struck out seven times against Rams’ hurdler Samantha Hardaway. They torched Hardaway for 14 hits in a 10-2 South Hamilton rout when the two teams met on June 11 in Jefferson.

“It was the first time in a long time where the team wasn’t up,” South Hamilton head coach Harry McMaken said. “We were just flat the whole night and I’m not sure why. If we don’t have that fire, we don’t hit the ball and we don’t play good defense.”

South Hamilton senior shortstop Katie Johnson tries to make a back-handed play on a ball hit behind third base against Greene County on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

South Hamilton committed three defensive errors and made several mistakes on the bases to chase itself out of scoring opportunities. Pitcher Jessi Harms allowed just seven hits and stuck out seven, and all three Greene County runs were unearned.

“Jessi pitched one of her best games,” McMaken said. “I was really proud of her.”

South Hamilton’s lone run came in its first at bat to trim the Rams’ advantage to 2-1. Breanne Diersen slapped a Hardaway offering down the left-field line and two batters later she raced around the bases and scored on a Cortney Harris blast to center field that resulted in a RBI double.

Hardaway sat down the next seven batters before the Hawks connected for their other two hits — singles by Grubb and Krista Swenson in the fourth.

Jenna Beyers laced a double for the Rams. Danielle Hoyle had a first-inning single and Hardaway added an insurance run with a bloop RBI base hit in the third.

Hawks’ senior Marla Grubb takes her lead off second base on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

South Hamilton will look to shake off back-to-back losses to end the regular season before it heads to Earlham for a Class 2A regional contest against Earlham (15-23) on Tuesday at 7 p.m.

Greene Cty. 3, S. Hamilton 1

Friday at Jewell

Gr. Cty 201 000 0 — 3 7 2

S. Ham 100 000 0 — 1 4 3

Samantha Hardaway and Faith Davis. Jessi Harms and Hailey Diersen. W — Hardaway. L — Harms. 2B — GC: Jenna Beyers; SH: Cortney Harris. RBI — GC: Hardaway, Danielle Hoyle; SH: Harris.