2018 CWRU Softball Season Recap

2018 CWRU Softball Season Recap

The Case Western Reserve University softball team recorded its most successful season in program history, as they finished the campaign with a program-best 38-12 overall record and finished tied for fifth at the 2018 NCAA Division III Softball Championships.

The Spartans qualified for the NCAA Division III Tournament for the only the second time in program history during the campaign, and made its' first-ever appearance in the finals round of the NCAA Championships. CWRU finished tied for fifth at the championships, which is the highest national finish for any team in Case Western Reserve University athletics history.

Case Western Reserve finished the year ranked sixth in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Top-25 Poll, a 16-spot improvement on their ranking from earlier in the regular season when they checked in at 22nd in the national rankings. This is the highest the team has ever been ranked in the NFCA's final poll of the year. The NFCA has issued a top-25 since the start of the 1995 season.

CWRU received a Pool 'C' bid to the tournament and began its postseason at the Notre Dame Regional in Notre Dame, Indiana. The Spartans dropped their first game of the regional to Ohio Northern University, but came back to sweep the next two days of games to advance to the NCAA Super Regionals in Holland, Michigan. Sophomore Ilissa Hamilton was named the Most Outstanding Player at the Regional after she threw 29 out of a possible 35 innings, compiling an ERA of 0.72 to go along with 23 strikeouts.  Other CWRU representatives on the All-Regional Team included freshman Sarah Miller, freshman Arisa Cleaveland and junior Nicole Doyle.

At the NCAA Super Regional, hosted by Hope College in Holland, Michigan, the Spartans took the first game of the best-of-three series, but fell in the second contest. In the third and decisive game, CWRU knocked off Hope 4-1 to advance to the NCAA Championships in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Hamilton was named the Most Outstanding Pitcher after going 2-1 with a 2.47 earned run average and nine strikeouts in 17 innings pitched. Senior Katie Wede was named the Most Outstanding Player in the series, collecting four hits and scoring two runs during the three-game series.

After a loss to the University of Texas at Tyler in the first game of the NCAA Championships, the Spartans fought back in an elimination game against Rowan University to earn a 2-1 walk-off win to advance at the championships. CWRU's 2018 campaign ultimately came to a close as they came out on the short end of a 7-6 verdict to Luther College. Doyle was named to the All-Tournament Team after batting .333 (3-for-9) over the three games during the championship, including three doubles, one run scored and one run batted in.

The Spartans were led during the season by a talented senior class, including UAA Position Player of the Year and NFCA All-Region Third Team second baseman Maren Waldner, All-UAA First Team first baseman Grace Tritchler and All-UAA First Team selection Katie Wede. In addition, freshman pitcher Sidney Brannam and Hamilton earned All-UAA First Team honors, while Doyle was a second-team selection.

Waldner posted one of the best years in the history of Case Western Reserve University softball. She finished second in the UAA with a .446 batting average (78-for-175), and her 78 hits tied for second among all Division III players. Waldner also hit two home runs, 16 doubles and scored a team-high 42 runs, while also driving in 38 runs. In 159 games played throughout her career, she has hit .369 with five home runs, 34 doubles and 88 RBI's.

Tritchler, a two-time All-UAA first team selection, started all 50 games for the Spartans, leading the team with seven home runs and 38 runs batted in, and ranked third among all CWRU players with a .361 batting average. She ranked tied for first in the UAA in home runs and RBI's. For her career, she ranks third in school history with 26 home runs and second in runs batted in with 134.

Wede, a two-time All-UAA first team selection, Academic All-America first team selection and Elite 90 Award winner, became the program's all-time stolen bases leader as she surpassed former Spartan Molly O'Brien's record of 66. She finished the season with 76 career stolen bases after stealing a new season-record 26 stolen bases during the 2018 season. Wede batted .308 (52-for-169) with one home run, four doubles, 15 RBI's and 42 runs scored.

Brannam finished the year ranked third in the UAA with 15 wins (15-4 overall) and third with a 1.81 earned run average. She led the team in earned run average and ranked second in wins as she totaled 116.1 innings pitched. Brannam allowed 30 earned runs over 116.1 innings pitched on 125 hits, while striking out 54 batters. She earned UAA Pitcher of the Week honors twice during her freshman campaign.

Hamilton, a sophomore transfer, led the conference with 21 wins (21-8 overall) and 184 strikeouts in her first year as a Spartan. She set the school's new single-season record in both wins and strikeouts, as she surpassed former Spartan Rebecca Taylor in both categories. Hamilton totaled a team-high 19 complete games, as she allowed 68 earned runs on 153 hits for a 2.57 ERA. In addition to her work on the mound, Hamilton batted .282 (35-for-124) with one home run, eight doubles, 12 RBI's and 24 runs scored. She was named UAA Pitcher of the Week on five different occasions during the season.

Doyle finished her junior season ranked second among CWRU players with a .362 batting average. She finished tied for second on the team with five home runs, while also collecting a team-high 19 doubles, 33 RBI's and 37 runs scored. Doyle earned UAA Hitter of the Week honors on April 30th and May 14th.

The Spartans' coaching staff also received honors during the 2018 campaign, as they were named the UAA Coaching Staff of the Year and earned the 2018 NFCA NCAA Division III Central Regional Coaching Staff of the Year honors. Along with Head Coach Josie Henry, assistant coaches Shannel Blackshear, Ashley Parello, Hannah Mehrle, Andrea Nagy, Annie Wennerberg and Katelyn Gibson all shared the honors, after helping to lead the Spartans to its first-ever NCAA Championships finals in program history.

In addition to the team's success on the field, the Spartans excelled in the classroom as well. Sophomore Nicole Carty, sophomore Melissa Cuellar, Doyle, senior Katie Dzierwa, Tritchler and Wede all received UAA spring All-Academic recognition.

The Spartans earned the following honors during the 2018 season:

CoSIDA Academic All-America

Katie Wede

Carmel, Ind. / Carmel

First Team

 

NFCA All-Region

Maren Waldner

Redondo Beach, Calif. / Chadwick

Second Team

 

All-UAA

Maren Waldner

Redondo Beach, Calif. / Chadwick

UAA Position Player of the Year, First Team

Grace Tritchler

San Antonio, Texas / Winston Churchill

First Team

Katie Wede

Carmel, Ind. / Carmel

First Team

Sidney Brannam

Austin, Texas / St. Dominic Savio Catholic

First Team

Ilissa Hamilton

S. Abington Twp, Pa. / Scranton Preparatory School

First Team

Nicole Doyle

Mount Vernon, Ohio / Mount Vernon

Second Team

 

UAA Athlete of the Week

Sidney Brannam

Austin, Texas / St. Dominic Savio Catholic

Mar. 19, Apr. 16

Nicole Doyle

Mount Vernon, Ohio / Mount Vernon

Apr. 30, May 14

Katie Dzierwa

Brookfield, Ill. / Lyons Township

May 29

Ilissa Hamilton

S. Abington Twp, Pa. / Scranton Preparatory School

Mar. 5, Apr. 9, April 23, May 14, May 21

Dusstyn Reynolds

Wooster, Ohio / Wooster

May 29

Grace Tritchler

San Antonio, Texas / Winston Churchill

Mar. 5

Maren Waldner

Redondo Beach, Calif. / Chadwick

Mar. 5, Apr. 23

Katie Wede

Carmel, Ind. / Carmel

May 21

 

UAA All-Academic Recognition

Nicole Carty

Pittsford, N.Y. / Pittsford Sutherland

Melissa Cuellar

Grand Island, Neb. / Grand Island Senior High

Nicole Doyle

Mount Vernon, Ohio / Mount Vernon

Katie Dzierwa

Brookfield, Ill. / Lyons Township

Grace Tritchler

San Antonio, Texas / Winston Churchill

Katie Wede

Carmel, Ind. / Carmel

 

The following were the Spartans statistical leaders during the season:

Hitting

Batting Average

Maren Waldner

.446

Hits

Maren Waldner

78

Doubles

Nicole Doyle

19

Triples

Sarah Miller

5

Home Runs

Grace Tritchler

7

Runs Batted In (RBI)

Grace Tritchler, Maren Waldner

38

Pitching

Wins

Ilissa Hamilton

21

Innings Pitched

Ilissa Hamilton

185.0

Strikeouts

Ilissa Hamilton

184

Earned Run Average (ERA)

Sidney Brannam

1.81