Pioneers picked to finish sixth in WIAC

Pioneers picked to finish sixth in WIAC

MADISON, Wis.--University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, the two-time defending regular-season champion, has been selected to win the 2019 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) softball title based on a preseason poll conducted by the league's head coaches and sports information directors.
 
The Warhawks have compiled a conference-best 12 regular-season crowns and 10 tournament titles, including six straight. UW-Whitewater has won at least 30 games in eight of the last 11 seasons and made six consecutive NCAA appearances. Ranked No. 13 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division III Top 25 Preseason Poll, the Warhawks bring back reigning WIAC Position Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year in Vera Pflugradt and Julia Camardo, respectively. Pflugradt hit a team-best .372 a season ago and finished second on the team with a .511 slugging percentage. Camardo had a conference-high 14 victories and finished second in the WIAC with a 2.04 earned run average, 116 strikeouts and 123.1 innings pitched.
 
Also returning is Caitlin Catino, who was successful in all 17 of her stolen base attempts and added 13 doubles and four triples, along with Bella Matthias, who secured WIAC Pitcher of the Year accolades in 2017. Matthias had a 2.34 earned run average, 10 wins and 107 strikeouts in 101.2 innings pitched during the 2018 campaign.
 
UW-Whitewater is followed in the conference predictions by: UW-Oshkosh; UW-Eau Claire; UW-Stout; UW-River Falls; UW-Platteville; UW-La Crosse; and UW-Stevens Point.
 
UW-Oshkosh entered the season ranked No. 20 in the NFCA Poll and owns three-regular season titles. The Titans have made back-to-back NCAA appearances for the third time in program history. In 2018, Amanda McIlhany posted a team-best .374 batting average, while Acacia Tupa had a team-high 30 runs scored and .636 slugging percentage. Clare Petrus pitched 123.1 innings and accumulated 13 victories, a 2.61 earned run average and 50 strikeouts, while Bailey Smaney had a 2.70 earned run average, 11 wins and 61 strikeouts in 111.2 innings pitched. Abby Menting, who missed the 2018 campaign due to injury, is back and was selected the WIAC Co-Position Player of the Year in 2016.
 
UW-Eau Claire has 11 regular-season championships in its trophy case and posted at least 21 victories in 15 consecutive seasons. The top-five hitters are back from a year ago, including Katie Rongstad, who led the team with a .345 batting average and .451 on-base percentage. Gretchen Arneson and Abbey Place each contributed a .321 batting average with Arneson leading the squad with 10 doubles, 20 RBI and a .519 slugging percentage. Sarah Peka had a team-best 11 victories, 113.1 innings pitched and 53 strikeouts.
 
UW-Stout's 23 victories during the 2018 campaign were the most in head coach Becky Iaccino's three seasons and highest total since 27 wins in 2014. Mary Iliopoulos led the WIAC in batting average, posting a school and conference record-tying average of .500. She also topped the league with a .538 on-base percentage, 49 hits and 35 runs scored, while finishing third with a .673 slugging percentage and 23 stolen bases. Kyncaide Diedrich had a team-high 23 RBI and three home runs, and placed second with a .412 batting average and 25 runs scored. Melea Bruns is the top returnee on the mound after posting a 2.83 earned run average and six wins in 64.1 innings pitched a season ago.
 
UW-River Falls' Kaia Dorn had a team-best .396 batting average, .441 on-base percentage and 11 stolen bases a season ago, while Molly Kaspar contributed a team-high 31 RBI. Noelle Senour had a team-high .675 slugging percentage and 10 home runs, and shared the RBI honor with Kaspar. Head coach Amber Dohlman entered the 2019 campaign needing one victory to reach 100 in her career.
 
UW-Platteville's 21 wins a season ago were the most since 2003 when it had 24, while the six WIAC victories were the highest total since 2012 when it had eight. The Pioneers bring back Shannon Gaul, who posted team highs of 28 RBI, a .393 batting average and .443 on-base percentage last season. Rachel Martin finished second on the team with 26 RBI and three home runs, while placing third with a .346 batting average. Ashton Hoeppner led the WIAC with 135.1 innings pitched and 150 strikeouts, while placing third with a 2.28 earned run average. Her 150 strikeouts established a school single-season record.
 
UW-La Crosse's Mia Schmidtke led the 2018 squad with a .707 slugging percentage, 33 RBI and 10 doubles. The Eagles also welcome back Stephanie Cole, who sat out the 2018 campaign due to injury, but had a team-leading .529 slugging percentage, 61 hits, 12 doubles and 32 RBI in 2017. Caitlyn Hughes compiled team highs of 88.1 innings pitched and 57 strikeouts a season ago. She claimed WIAC Pitcher of the Year recognition in 2016.
 
UW-Stevens Point brings back its top-two hitters from a season ago. Lauren Luedtke topped the Pointers with a .330 batting average, .420 slugging percentage and .362 on-base percentage. Morgan Johnson compiled a team-best 10 doubles and 17 RBI. Anna Palicka returns on the mound and had 94 strikeouts in 105.1 innnigs pitched – both team highs.
 
2019 Preseason Predictions (Voted on by WIAC head coaches and sports information directors)

 

  2018 Record
1. UW-Whitewater (29-13-1 overall, 12-2 WIAC)
2. UW-Oshkosh (26-14, 10-4)
3. UW-Eau Claire (21-18, 7-7)
4. UW-Stout (23-12, 9-5)
5. UW-River Falls (21-15, 6-8)
6. UW-Platteville (21-15, 6-8)
7. UW-La Crosse (18-18, 5-9)
8. UW-Stevens Point (12-25, 1-13)


 
 
Team Tidbits (Entering the 2019 season)
 
UW-Eau Claire
Head Coach:  Leslie Huntington; 18th season at UWEC; 469-246-1
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  18/3
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  8/1
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  2/0
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  1/0

Returning All-WIAC:  Gretchen Arneson, Jr., C (2018-Honorable); Mikayla McEnery, So., OF (2018-First); Sarah Peka, Jr., RHP (2017-Honorable, 2018-First); Stephanie Wilczynski, Jr., RHP (2018-Honorable)

Notable Returning Position Players:  Abbey Place, So., C/INF; Katie Rongstad, Jr., OF; Katelyn Yute, So., OF/INF
 
Notable Returning Pitchers:  None
 
 
UW-La Crosse
Head Coach:  Chris Helixon; 18th season (14th at UWL); 372-298-1 (overall) / 320-207 (UWL)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  12/15
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  4/5
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  3/0
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  1/1

Returning All-WIAC:  Stephanie Cole, So., OF (2017-First); Caitlyn Hughes, Sr., RHP (2016-First/Pitcher of the Year, 2017-First); Mia Schmidtke, So., OF (2018-First)
 
Notable Returning Position Players:  Sydney Murphy, Sr., 3B; Haley Radewan, So., INF; Sabrina Scardamaglia, So., C
 
Notable Returning Pitchers:  Maddie Muelken, So., RHP; Sydne Shattuck, So., RHP
 
 
UW-Oshkosh
Head Coach:  Scott Beyer; 6th season at UWO; 138-63
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  13/6
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost: 6/2 
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  4/0
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  3/0

Returning All-WIAC:  Natalie Dudek, Jr., SS (2017-Honorable); Kaitlyn Krol, Sr., 1B (2017-Honorable, 2018-First); Abby Menting, Sr., C (2016-First/Co-Position Player of the Year, 2017-First); Claire Petrus, Jr., P/DP (2018-Honorable); Bailey Smaney, Sr., RHP (2018-First); Acacia Tupa, Jr., OF (2018-First)
 
Notable Returning Position Players:  Natalie Dillon, Jr., OF; Kailee Garstecki, So., OF; Amanda McIlhany, Jr., 2B
 
Notable Returning Pitchers:  None
 
 
UW-Platteville
Head Coach:  Andie Varsho; 3rd season at UWP; 32-40
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  8/10
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  6/3
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  2/0
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  1/0

Returning All-WIAC:  Shannon Gaul, So., 3B (2018-First); Ashton Hoeppner, So., RHP (2018-First); Rachel Martin, Sr., 1B (2018-Honorable)
 
Notable Returning Position Players:  Rachel Bonnell, Jr., CF; Alejandra Ochoa, So., OF

Notable Returning Pitchers:  Abby Burns, So., RHP
 
 
UW-River Falls
Head Coach:  Amber Dohlman; 7th season (4th at UWRF); 99-118-1 (overall) / 46-61-1 (UWRF)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  11/10
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  6/4
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  2/0
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  0/1

Returning All-WIAC:  Kaia Dorn, Sr., INF (2018-First); Molly Kaspar, So., OF (2018-First); Ali Krohn, Sr., INF (2017-First); Noelle Senour, Jr., C (2018-Honorable)
 
Notable Returning Position Players:  Lexi Dupee, Jr., INF
 
Notable Returning Pitchers:  Payton Speckel, Sr., RHP; Hannah Stegeman, So., RHP
 
 
UW-Stevens Point
Head Coach:  Ryan Konitzer; 3rd season (2nd at UWSP); 25-50 (overall) / 12-25 (UWSP)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  7/12
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  4/6
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  2/2
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  2/0

Returning All-WIAC:  Ashley Cohen, Jr., DP (2018-First); Morgan Johnson, Sr., OF (2017-First); Lauren Luedtke, So., C (2018-Honorable)
 
Notable Returning Position Players:  Rachel Wakefield, So., UTIL
 
Notable Returning Pitchers:  Anna Palicka, So., RHP
 
 
UW-Stout
Head Coach:  Becky Iaccino; 5th season (4th season at UWST); 76-75 (overall) / 58-57 (UWST)
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  10/5
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  6/4
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  3/1
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  2/1

Returning All-WIAC:  Melea Bruns, So., RHP (2018-Honorable); Kyncaide Diedrich, Sr., OF (2017-Honorable); Mary Iliopoulos, Jr., OF (2018-First); Alicia Meyer, Sr., 1B (2018-Honorable)
 
Notable Returning Position Players:  Jessica Daley, Jr., INF; Meghan Kelly, So., 1B/RHP; Katelyn Schobert, Sr., OF
 
Notable Returning Pitchers:  Sommer Kunstmann, So., RHP
 
 
UW-Whitewater
Head Coach:  Brenda Volk; 21st season at UWW; 623-250-5
Letterwinners Returning/Lost:  19/6
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost:  7/2
Pitchers with Starting Experience Returning/Lost:  3/2
Pitchers with Saves Returning/Lost:  1/0

Returning All-WIAC:  Julia Camardo, Sr., RHP (2016-First, 2018-First/Pitcher of the Year); Caitlin Catino, Sr., OF (2016-First, 2017-Honorable, 2018-First); Meg Cohrs, Jr., INF (2017-First); Bella Matthias, Jr., RHP (2017-First/Pitcher of the Year, 2018-First); Nikki Mikosz, Jr., C (2016-Honorable); Vera Pflugradt, So., OF (2018-First/Position Player of the Year); Emily Rux, Sr., INF (2016-First)
 
Notable Returning Position Players:  Kelly Berglund, Sr., INF; Molly Ethington, Sr., INF; Kaiden Jackson, So., OF
 
Notable Returning Pitchers:  Dani Biesiada, Jr., RHP