Key returners, young talent spark Pioneers’ season

A few talented veterans, some new fresh faces and a two game winning streak bring optimism as the softball team enters a promising new season

Jeremy Williamson, Sports Editor

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s softball team utilized a 2-2 road trip start to propel themselves into an optimistic season.

The team traveled to Missouri on March 9, losing two in a row (6-1, 15-11) to Fontbonne University, Mo., but matched their losses with a pair of wins (7-6, 11-1) the following day over Westminster College, Mo.

The team will use the two-game winning streak, along with a talented group of young players and a few prospective returners, to begin the 2014 season.

Seniors Becca Lowe and Ellen Goerdt are prepared to lead the squad, as they were some of the top hitters on the team in 2013.

Lowe finished last season as the team’s best slugger, averaging a .349 percentage at the plate and leading the team with 16 runs scored.

This season she plans to continue being a big hitter, as well as consistently getting on base to put her teammates in good positions to score.

“Some expectations I have for myself would be to improve as a small ball player, slapper and line drive hitter. I need to get on base for my team this year,” Lowe said. “It’s important for me to get on base and be quick around the bases, so our big hitters on the team are able do their job and get me to score.”

Goerdt finalized her 2013 campaign on a five-game hitting streak and started in 24 games of the season.

“Ellyn Goerdt and Becca Lowe are going to be our team leaders,” sophomore outfielder/third baseman Carley Rote said. “They’re our two seniors, so we look up to them because they’re always positive and show a lot of energy and love for the game.”

Entering the season as the team’s fifth best hitter from 2013, Rote already leads the Pioneers with eight hits in her 17 appearances at the plate.

Rote led the team with a .824 slugging percentage and hit a team-high three doubles from the weekend.

Also, Rote is transitioning from infield to outfield for the first time in her life, but she expects to play with the same level of intensity.

“I’m playing right field this season, so I expect to see the game at a new perspective, since I have been an infielder my whole life,” Rote said. “I just plan to execute plays and when I’m batting, I just want to make good contact for solid hits.”

Another significant returner for the Pioneers is junior Lisa Karau, who leads the team after the four contests with a .583 batting average and two home runs along with her two doubles.

The Pioneers will look to Karau to be consistent and continue as a strong hitter on the team as the season progresses.

Accompanying the team are various new teammates, aspiring to make significant contributions to the overall season.

“We are excited about all our new faces,” head coach Lee Negrelli said. “A few notable starters would be junior Katie Huss at second base, who is a transfer [student] this year, and freshman Chelsey Walker, who will be playing third base all the way from Oregon, so we are excited to have new faces everywhere.”

As for pitching, the Pioneers’ roster consists of freshman Jess Butzen and sophomores Cassie Roach and Keri Treml, who combined for 13 innings last season.

“We are looking for sophomore Keri Treml to step up and take the reigns,” Negrelli said.

After an 8-20 finish to the 2013 season, following a 0-10 streak, the Pioneers’ goal was to refrain from dwelling on the previous season and develop a positive mindset for the 2014 campaign.

The Pioneers have already reached a quarter of their total wins from last season, which is an improvement from previous games.

“It’s a new year, and so we’re looking forward to the goals we can accomplish this year rather than dwelling on the goals we didn’t accomplish last year,” Negrelli said.