Spartan Softball’s ‘Best Team Ever’ Aims High in 2015
Feb 26, 2015
2015 ROSTER AND SCHEDULE
DUBUQUE, Iowa – After winning a record 22 games, setting 10 school records, and earning back-to-back Iowa Conference tournament berths for the first time in school history in 2014, the University of Dubuque softball team sets their sights on their first Iowa Conference title this spring. The Spartans were chosen to finish fifth in the Iowa Conference for the second straight year.
2015 IIAC Preseason Coaches Poll
|1||Luther||52||32-8, 10-4 IIAC|
|6||Buena Vista||26||15-21, 5-9|
Head Coach Wendi Wipperfurth set the tone when asked about the upcoming season beginning this weekend at Luther’s Rochester Dome Games in Rochester, Minn, ”We have very high expectations and our goals are to place first in the conference and get into regional play. I truly think this is the best team to go through the program and will compete very strong in the Iowa Conference.”
Slowly but surely the Spartans have ascended the IIAC hierarchy after finishing with a 22-15, 8-6 IIAC record and a fifth-place finish in 2014. Eight IIAC wins tied for the second-most in school history, but featured the best winning percentage (.571) in UD’s 32-year history of IIAC play. It was the fourth straight year of improvement after UD collected four, six, seven, and eight IIAC wins in Coach Wipperfurth’s first four seasons at the helm. The Spartans bounced back from an opening loss in the IIAC tourney to defeat Central, 5-4, but eventually were eliminated by Buena Vista, 2-1, in 10 innings.
“The process has been long and at times very difficult, but the growth of this program is something we’re very proud of,” stated Coach Wipperfurth, the owner of a school record 72 wins. “The players that were here, along with my recruits, have worked really hard and stepped up when asked to become better.
Whatever they are doing, it’s working.
In 2014, the Spartans shattered an unprecedented 10 school records that included wins (22), runs (198), RBIs (178), triples (15), home runs (25), slugging percentage (.453), and pitching strikeouts (176).
Ready to add to it is the Spartans stellar, six-player senior class that features three All-Iowa Conference honorees.
Leading the way is the dual threat of 2014 IIAC second team selection DH/PHannah Koerperich, who paced the team in 2014 with a .337/.455/.653 (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) line to go with a single-season record six home runs and 28 RBIs.
Koerperich (7-3 through nine starts of 72.0 innings with a 4.18 ERA) anchors the Spartan pitching staff along with 2014 Second Team All-IIAC selection, P Amanda Williams, who pitched 103.0 innings and allowed a team-best 2.99 ERA with a 9-9 record in 17 starts.
A 2013 Second-Team selection, 2BMeggie Schmidt, will lend her .369/.397/.568 line, four home runs, and single-season record of 32 runs to the mix after finishing up her 2015 IIAC tournament title run as a starter on the women’s basketball team. Defensively, Schmidt aided her senior starters with a team-high 77 assists.
The senior class will get help from a trio of key juniors: 1BTori Woltz (led team in batting average with a .385 and set single-season record of 32 RBs), 2015 First Team All-IIAC selection 2B Ainsley Billesbach (three HRs and team-high 10 doubles), and PMegan Loes (team-high 25 appearances with 72.2 innings and 3.08 ERA).
A talented group of eight freshman that features a plethora of infielders, one pitcher, and an outfielder aids the Spartan effort geared towards the top.
Replacing the production of graduated 2013 and 2014 IIAC First Team selection C Amber Meyer won’t be easy after her .345/.434/.549 line and four home runs a year ago helped secure five UD career records: hits (146), runs (96), RBIs (72), home runs (12), and walks (67). Meyer’s fellow classmate, OF Caitlin Aulwes also departs after earning her first All-IIAC accolades last year in posting a .304/.393./.480 line with two home runs and four triples.
No matter the roster, it will take a team effort as voiced by Coach Wipperfurth,” I consider all of my players impact players. It takes a collective effort to win ball games. We have a strong pitching staff as well as many versatile players that can step in and play multiple positions. We work well together as a team and I have seen a lot of growth not only from newcomers, but also from returners. It’s going to be a great year.”
UD gets the ball rolling this Saturday with a two-game trip to the Rochester Dome Games (hosted by Luther) in Rochester, Minn. After the conclusion of 20 non-conference games, where they play UW-La Crosse three times, the Spartans open up IIAC play at home against Wartburg on March 31. Rival Loras visits on April 2 with the conclusion of the IIAC slate taking place at Luther on April 25.
“A tough non-conference schedule will get us ready for conference play,” added Coach Wipperfurth. “At that point, all conference games are key, but what most people don’t know is the strength of the Iowa Conference in softball. We usually have 2-4 teams in our conference ranked nationally and also have 2-3 who receive at-large bids into the postseason. To reach our goals, we need to have a winning mentality and play our best.”
The Spartans will have to earn their stripes after being picked fifth in the conference for the second-straight year.
The only question is, can they do it?
“We have a very deep, energetic, passionate, and cohesive team that is focused on winning games and achieving our goals,” said an upbeat Coach Wipperfurth. “We are ready to go and without a doubt can make an impact in the Iowa Conference. It is exciting to see growth and we can’t wait to start playing!