Photo by Bill Roseberry
Pictured are senior members of the Marquette Catholicsoftball team (from left) Megan Wittich, Kalie Buecker, Carly Schaber and Megan McClard.
Adjusting to life without one of the best pitchers in IHSA history was a little tough on the Marquette Catholic Explorers in 2014.
With Alexis Silkwood contributing as a freshman at Mississippi State University last year, Marquette found itself stuck with a 3A classification and ended ‘14 with an uncharacteristic 10-25 record. The Explorers were second in the state in 3A in 2013.
Head coach Dan Wiedman, entering his 21st season at the helm of the Marquette softball program, thinks his squad will be more consistent in 2015. It all starts with returning pitcher Megan Wittich.
Wittich started 27 games as a junior and posted a 7-21 record with a 5.39 ERA. Having her back and getting some pitching depth behind her with solid freshmen Meghan Schorman and Tess Eberlin will help.
“We’ve got Wittich back from last year and we’ve got a lot more pitching depth this year,” Wiedman said. “We have two other freshmen coming into the program that pitch, so they’re going to give us a big boost this year.”
With only 16 players total in the program this year, Wiedman admitted numbers are down, but he thinks the talent is there.
“At the varsity level we’ve got 10 kids competing for the nine spots and they’re all going to get a lot of playing time, so we feel pretty comfortable with the talent at our varsity level,” Wiedman said. “We’re just trying to develop some of the younger kids to help out a little bit.”
Offensively, Marquette took a hit from last season. Morgan Wiedman (.394, 1 HR, 32 RBIs) and Maddie Youngblood (.364, 1 HR, 16 RBIs) were the leading hitters for the Explorers and both graduated.
Wittich (.333, 1 HR, 15 RBIs) and fellow senior Kalie Buecker (.247, 11 RBIs) are the leading returning hitters. Wittich was the starting left fielder on the second-place squad in 2013.
“Megan Wittich is our leading hitter coming back from last year,” Wiedman said. “She’s a three-year starter. Then Kalie Buecker is a three-year starter for us also. She’ll either play first base or right field. We’ve got Sam Harshbarger, a junior, who will be slapping this year, Meghan Schorman, who is a good hitter, Miranda Schroeder, Tess Eberlin, a good freshman catcher, Grace Frost, and we’ve got Megan McClard that hit some for us last year. Then we have Emma Taylor and Carly Schaber. Those 10 kids, there isn’t a lot of separation as far as their offensive skills. It’s whichever ones show what they can do during the ball games are the ones that will be moving up in the lineup.”
As for staying in Class 3A, it doesn’t bother Wiedman. He knows softball starts in the circle and solid pitching can take a team a long way. He doesn’t believe there is much difference between 1A and 2A to 3A and 4A.
“As far as competing at 3A, it doesn’t really bother us that much,” Wiedman said. “In softball pitchers dominate a lot of the games and there are some really good 1A teams and we competed at 2A for a long time and it’s a very tough class to compete in. I don’t see a whole lot of difference because the good pitchers are spread out over the different classes. The difference competing at the 3A level and the 4A level is you don’t get a lot of weak teams. In 1A or 2A sometimes you will find a little weaker teams. That’s really the only difference, you still have to face a good pitcher somewhere.”
Marquette opened with Granite City on Wednesday, was at Metro East Lutheran on Thursday and heads to Gillespie for a double header at 10 a.m. Saturday to start the season.
Wittich, a senior returns as the starting pitcher and leading hitter for the Explorers in 2015. She started 27 games for Marquette last year, while hitting .333 with, six doubles, four triples, one homer and 15 RBIs.
Buecker, a senior, will fill a role as a first baseman/outfielder for Marquette. In 97 at-bats last season, she hit .247 with 11 RBIs. She’s the second-best returning hitter for the Explorers for 2015.
Head coach: Dan Wiedman
2013-14 record: 10-25
All-time coaching record: 434-222, 21st season at Marquette
Kalie Buecker 1B, OF
Megan McClard LF
Carly Schaber RF, 1B
Megan Wittich P, CF
Sam Harshbarger 3B
Miranda Schroeder 1B, DP
Alyssa Greenwell UT
Lily Kostecki UT
Alyssa Meyer UT
Emma Taylor SS
Carly Creel UT
Tess Eberlin P, 2B
Grace Frost C
Melissa Lurkins UT
Meghan Schorman P, 1B
Cayli Shinstock UT
March 18 – vs. Granite City, 4:30 p.m.
March 19 – at MELHS, 4:30 p.m.
March 21 – at Gillespie (DH), 10 a.m.
March 25 – vs. Brussels, 4:30 p.m.
March 28 – vs. Dupo at Belleville West, noon
March 28 – at Belleville West, 2 p.m.
March 31 – at Althoff, 4:30 p.m.
April 1 – vs. Columbia, 4:30 p.m.
April 2 – at CM, 4:15 p.m.
April 6 – at Highland, 4:30 p.m.
April 8 – at Okawville, 4:30 p.m.
April 9 – vs. Calhoun, 4:30 p.m.
April 13 – at Mount Olive, 4:30 p.m.
April 16 – at Greenville, 4:30 p.m.
April 18 – at Jersey, 8:30 a.m.
April 20 – at Litchfield, 4:30 p.m.
April 21 – vs. Bunker Hill, 4:30 p.m.
April 22 – vs. Hillsboro, 4:30 p.m.
April 24 – vs. Mascoutah, 4 p.m.
April 24 – vs. Carbondale, 7 p.m.
April 27 – vs. EA-WR, 4:30 p.m.
April 29 – at Nokomis, 4:30 p.m.
May 2 – vs. Quincy Notre Dame, 10 a.m.
May 2 – vs. Edwardsville, 2 p.m.
May 6 – at Roxana, 4:30 p.m.
May 9 – at Quincy Notre Dame Cluster, 11 a.m.
May 11 – at Carrollton, 4:30 p.m.
May 12 – at Staunton, 4:30 p.m.
May 13 – at Belleville East, 4:30 p.m.
May 14 – at Gillespie, 4:30 p.m.
May 16 – vs. Gibault, noon
May 16 – vs. Mater Dei, 2 p.m.
May 19 – vs. Freeburg, 4:30 p.m.
May 20 – at Collinsville, 4:30 p.m.
May 23 – at Edwardsville, 10 a.m.