MADISON, Wis. – After what was arguably the best season for the UW-Platteville softball program in the past two-plus decades, five Pioneers were recognized by the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) for their individual efforts. To go along with the player awards, Coach Andie Varsho and her staff were selected as the WIAC Coaching Staff of the Year.
The WIAC announced Tuesday afternoon that Ashton Hoeppner, Abby Jaques, and Shannon Gaul were each selected as part of the 21 player First Team, marking the first time three Pioneers received First Team honors since 2003. Rachel Martin and Alejandra Ochoa join the trio as All-WIAC selections, giving UW-Platteville five honorees on the list for the first time since 2014.
Hoeppner, a freshmen from Winona, Minnesota, shattered the school strikeout record with 150, 39 more than any pitcher before her and only the third to record 100+ K's in a season. She threw four complete game shutouts, including the first no-hitter for UW-Platteville since 2008 on April 24 at Wisconsin Lutheran.
In the WIAC she finished third in earned run average among all pitchers who threw at least 50 innings with a 2.28 ERA. Her 150 strikeouts were 56 more than any other pitcher in the WIAC. She also finished atop the conference in wins and innings pitched. Her four saves, another school record, were second most in the WIAC.
In her first season with the Pioneers after transferring from Iowa Central Community College, Jaques led the Pioneers in hits (49), runs scored (35), doubles (14), slugging percentage (.568), stolen bases (11), and at-bats (125). Behind the plate the Princeton, Illinois native proved to be one of the top catchers in the WIAC as well, picking off a conference best five runners.
During conference play the Pioneers' leadoff hitter finished sixth in the WIAC in batting average (.358), second in hits (20), and third in runs scored (12) and total bases (28). Her 49 total hits and 14 doubles on the season led all conference hitters.
A freshman from Aurora, Illinois, Gaul led the Pioneers in batting average (.393), RBI (28), and on base percentage (.443). She had six three-hit games and a four-hit game in her inaugural season at UW-Platteville, and had multi-hit performances in 9 of the Pioneers' final 17 games. The third baseman finished in the top ten in the WIAC in hits (3rd), doubles (3rd), RBI (4th), batting average (7th), total bases (8th), and on base percentage (9th).
Martin, a junior transfer from the College of DuPage, earned her Honorable Mention selection after finishing second on the team in runs batted in (26) and runs scored (23), third in batting average (.346) and on base percentage (.427), and fourth in slugging percentage (.523) and doubles (8).
With many great hitters already in the lineup, Martin's versatility made it easy for Coach Varsho to get her at-bats. She made 19 starts as the designated player, 14 at first base, and three at third base. Throughout the season she hit third, fifth, and sixth in the batting order, and in 17 starts in the field she committed just one error.
Ochoa earned UW-Platteville's selection to the All-Sportsmanship team. The freshman from Plainfield, Illinois played in 34 games for the Pioneers, splitting time between second base and left field. Ochoa hit .275 on the season, collected 12 RBI, and had a .976 fielding percentage.
In her second year at UW-Platteville, Coach Varsho led the Pioneers to their best record in the last 25 years at 21-15, and were a tiebreaker away from qualifying for the WIAC tournament for the first time since 2014. Joining Varsho on the staff for his first season as a Pioneer was Roger Schliewe, who primarily served as the pitching and infield coach.
"This season has been exciting for me to be able to see how much our program has grown in two years. We have talented, hardworking, dedicated, and passionate student-athletes who have come together with our team's mission in mind," said Varsho. "I am very excited to see them take this culture and turn it into a tradition here at UW-Platteville."