February 25, 2009
By Michael Omenazu
Looking at the American Midwest Conference website’s article on AMC Softball Honors, one can find a picture of UIS softball coach Joe Fisher handing the conference’s Player of the Year award to its recipient.
The person standing next to Fisher is not one of his own players, but rather Valerie Teter, a freshman pitcher/utility player from Columbia College. However, if the Prairie Stars continue to make progress, as Fisher expects, Teter could very well be one of Fisher’s players within the next year.
Although the picture in presenting UIS’s achievements, the article features the university’s accomplishments including the naming of Brianne Moeller (P/1B) and Jessica Wolff (SS) to the 2008 AMC First Team All-Conference, along with honorable mentions of JoAnna Eddy (2B/SS) and Nicole McAfee (SS/OF).
These core seniors provide leadership, experience, and stability for the rest of the team. This is epitomized in their defense, particularly in the infield, one of the team’s strengths. According to the coach, “Having these players at these key positions like second base, shortstop and third are very helpful because they provide experience and you can trust that they will make the right plays.”
In the fall, their defense helped win games as they were able to get lead runners and repeatedly came up with key plays.
An area for improvement that the team collectively strives to develop in is their offense, specifically in clutch situations. The team exhibited great advancement last spring, posting a record close to .500 (15-20), and competed in a lot more ball games than some may have expected.
The Prairie Stars look to build on past success and realistically hope to play in the conference title game. A vital factor that will determine whether they realize this goal is the results of close games.
Continually UIS found itself on the downside of one-run losses, specifically in their final eleven contests when a majority ended with defeats by the slimmest of margins. The softball team aims to compile timely hits in order to move runners into scoring position, putting them in good shape to win more.
Mar. 16, 2009 (Mon)vs. Wisconsin-River Falls (@ Rebel Spring Games, Kissimmee, FL)9 a.m.
Mar. 25, 2009 (Wed) University of Missouri-St. Louis 2 and 4 p.m.
Apr. 4-5, 2009 (Sat-Sun)McKendree University Tournament
Apr. 8, 2009 (Wed)McKendree University 2 p.m.
*Bold: Home Games
The squad’s pitching staff featuring returning players Brianne Moeller and Alexandra Newbern, plus a new walk-on keeps games close, often stifling their opponents’ offenses. While some may be worried about what seems to be a lack of depth in this aspect, Coach Fisher notes that, “a lot of programs go with just two and we have experience so we will be ok.”
Looking at other programs within the conference, Columbia, a perennial powerhouse, rival McKendree and William Woods are viewed annually as the teams to beat as a result of their established histories. However, recent wins against these schools suggest that UIS’ softball future is bright.