Softball team off to hot start, go 11-1 in Florida

The softball team may have spent spring break in Florida, but they took care of business on the field during their trip, winning 11 of their 12 games to start the year.
Its 11-1 record marks the team’s best start under head coach Brenda Volk’s tenure here at UW-Whitewater, which dates back to 1999.
“This is the most focused team we’ve had,” Volk said. “I feel like out of all of our practices, we’ve only had what I would call two bad practices, so the team’s been really focused in the offseason.”

Junior Katie Boyle winds up to deliver a pitch. Boyle is 4-0 this season with a 1.22 ERA and pitched a perfect game against Southern Maine helping her team win 20-0. The Warhawks are 11-1 so far this season, the best start under Volk. Photo submitted.

The success the team has had to start the year has come from both great offense and great pitching. During the ’Hawks 12-game stretch, the team outscored its opponents 94-32.  The offense was held under five runs just once during that time.
Junior Amanda Mertes, whose batting average is at .452 after the trip, said the key has been going up to the plate confident and just trying to stay relaxed.
“We have worked really hard in the offseason and I think that’s the reason for our great success thus far,” Mertes said. “We have a ton of talent this year and if we continue to work as a team, we have the potential to do great things.”
Volk said the offense wasn’t just fueled by one or two girls during the stretch.
“It seemed like no matter who went in there, they stepped up,” Volk said. “We’re pretty deep offensively so hopefully in the long run we can have somebody on the bench step up if we need them to because we have so many different options.”
On the defensive side, the ’Hawks gave up an average of just under three runs per game. Even in its lone loss, the team only surrendered three runs. Katie Boyle had a standout break, only allowing five earned runs in the six games she pitched in.
“She’s a definite key to our success,” Volk said. “She’s got the most experience on the mound and she’s developed into a good leader.”
One of the games Boyle pitched in during the trip included a perfect game over Southern Maine, which the ’Hawks ended up winning 20-0. Boyle said the whole game was awesome.
“It wasn’t even a pitching dominant game,” Boyle said. “I only had three strikeouts, so it was definitely the defense that shut down Southern Maine.”         “What was awesome was that our starting lineup only had six of the runs, so our second and third team coming off the bench had 14 runs.”
The last game the ’Hawks played during the break marked a milestone that no other coach in WIAC history has achieved.
Volk recorded her 400th career coaching victory after beating Middlebury 5-3 on Thursday.
Volk said she wasn’t even concentrated on getting number 400, and that the game was all about the team.
“I was just more concerned about winning,” Volk said. “Our last day was probably our worst day down there just because we were tired and everything. So to me, it was just about not wanting to go home with a loss on that last day. The 400th win was just a bonus.”