Seniors reflect on softball careers

As the softball season winds down with the last regular season games this week, the final games for the Pioneers softball team’s four seniors are fast approaching.

Pitcher Melissa Anderson will graduate in May with a degree in criminal justice.  Catcher Molly Rice will graduate in December with a degree in elementary education after finishing her student teaching in January.  Third baseman Colleen Lowe, who majored in biology with a pre-medicine emphasis, is currently applying for medical school.  Shortshop Ashlen Folkers will graduate in May 2014 with an elementary education degree.

With their final days in a Pioneer uniform looming, the women fondly look back at their time as Pioneers.

“From freshman to senior year, the program has greatly changed,” Rice said.  “It has been fun to watch and be a part of.”

Anderson said she has had a blast making great memories and having the ability to travel many places as the team as crisscrossed the Midwest for games during her career.

There have been many benefits playing for the softball team, but the seniors unanimously said that the largest benefit was making good friends.  Other benefits included developing leadership and time management skills.

Folkers transferred to University of Wisconsin-Platteville from Sauk Valley Community College and said she enjoyed the advantages of a larger softball program.

“There are big changes here with having great amenities and trainers,” Folkers said.

One of the down sides to playing a college sport is the amount of time needed for practices and games, which takes away from time for school.

“Missing classes puts a lot of stress on us, and then we have to make up tests,” Anderson said.

Another down side is something that the players cannot control: the weather.

“The weather has a big impact and has shorten our season greatly,” Folkers said.  “About 10 games were cancelled because of the weather in St. Louis during our spring break matches.”

These players will take the personal skills they learned while playing for the Pioneers into the professional world.

“Knowing how to give constructive criticism, knowing when to put in your opinion and when to let other people take the lead,” Lowe said were skills she had learned through softball.

“As a pitcher, I learned many skills such as leadership, communication, how to address coaches and conflict solving that I will be able to use in a future career,” Anderson said.

Anderson, Folkers, Lowe and Rice all said they hope to coach softball at some point in their lives, but the players are all going in different paths after college.  Lowe will head to medical school and Rice and Folkers will look for teaching jobs.  Anderson is awaiting a full-time job opportunity in criminal justice.

“I have three interviews in the next two weeks, so hopefully one of them will pan out,” Anderson said.

All four seniors are in the starting lineup for the Pioneers, and their presence has helped the Pioneers’ younger players.

“By having a couple of years starting experience and leading by example in everything they do, they influence our underclassmen,” head coach Lee Negrelli said.  “It’s always hard when you have starters graduate, but we have enough young players that will be ready to step up to the position.”

The seniors cited qualifying for the WIAC tournament last season as a highlight of their careers.

“It was a great opportunity since I have never been to the tournament before, and as a team we hadn’t been in years,” Anderson said.

Lowe also added that she has enjoyed having the opportunity to play softball with her younger sister Becca, an outfielder for the Pioneers.

The Pioneers will play their last games, a double header, against University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. on April 27 at home.