PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin-Platteville softball team opens its 2013 season on Saturday in Memphis, Tenn. at the Softball Showcase of Hope to Benefit St. Jude, hosted by Rhodes College.
Head coach Lee Negrelli enters her second season at the helm of the Pioneer softball program. Last year, the Pioneers appeared in the WIAC Tournament for the first time since 2008 and posted a 20-19 record the most wins since 2003. UW-Platteville lost 11 letterwinners and two all-WIAC honorees from last season's squad. The Pioneers will rely on strong defense and pitching this season to build on from their success from last year.
The Pioneers return both of their starters, senior Melissa Anderson and Jeni Freiburger. The pitching staff posted a 2.82 earned run average, which is the best since 2004 (2.22 ERA). Anderson led the staff with 20 starts, 12 complete games and 143.1 innings pitched. She registered a 2.64 ERA and fanned 80 batters. Freiburger pitched 104.2 innings in 17 starts with a 2.94 ERA and 62 strikeouts. The Pioneers add three freshmen arms to the staff; Keri Treml (Sycamore, Ill.), Carley Rote (McConnell, Ill.) and Cassie Roach (Ferryville, Wis.). All three rookies have to potential to give the Pioneers some solid innings.
The Pioneers will miss all-WIAC shortstop Chantal McReynolds, but senior Ashlen Folkers is set to take over at short. Folkers earned honorable mention second baseman last season and will slide over to play shortstop. She is the Pioneers third best returning bat with a .270 average. Senior Colleen Lowe returns for her final season at the thirdbase after earning honorable mention all-WIAC last year. She compliments Folkers very well to be one of the best returning third and short combos in the league. Lowe started 39 games at third and batted a .255 average with a .353 on base percentage. The Pioneers have a position battle for first base with sophomore Haley Salazar and junior college transfer Becca Lowe, the sister of Colleen. Senior Molly Rice brings a lot of experience behind the plate and started 34 games last year without earning an error. She batted a .232 average with 17 RBIs.
UW-Platteville returns two of its three starting outfielders, Kayla Gosdeck and Ellyn Goerdt. The slap-hitting sophomore Gosdeck returns from a solid rookie campaign. She batted a .271 average with a .346 on base percentage and stole eight bags. Junior Goerdt is the Pioneers top returning hitter with a .277 average and 27 RBIs. The Dubuque, Iowa native, is very patient at the plate and is tough to strikeout, only striking out 18 times in 119 at bats. Sophomore Taylor Ruchti, junior Cassandra Bonin, Becca Lowe and Treml are battling for the final outfield spot.