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UWS softball team picked second in preseason poll

UW-Superior’s Gabby Gidley makes contact during a game last season at Liebart Field. Gidley, a former Superior Spartan, is a sophomore infielder for UWS. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)1 / 2
University of Wisconsin-Superior’s Katie White reaches for a foul ball during last year’s UMAC tournament at Kenwood Field in Duluth. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)2 / 2

The University of Wisconsin-Superior softball team has been picked to finish second in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference this season, according to the UMAC Softball Coaches Preseason Poll.

The Yellowjackets finished with 56 points in the poll, including one first-place vote, while preseason favorite the College of St. Scholastica had 64 points and the remaining eight first-place votes.

UWS ended last season 27-15 overall, finished in third place in the UMAC at 13-3 and advanced to its first NCAA tournament appearance since 2004 with a 1-0 win over the Saints in the deciding championship game of the UMAC tournament.

Repeating last year’s success may be challenging for the Yellowjackets after losing six starters from a year ago including All-UMAC first team selection Katie Wilke and honorable mention selections Shelly Misco and Brittany Thomfordha. The three combined to score 74 runs a season ago.

Fortunately for UWS coach Roger Plachta, several key contributors return to join nine first-year players hoping to make an impact right away.

Leading the Yellowjackets will be All-UMAC pitcher Sarah Hendrickson (Duluth Denfeld), who pitched a UMAC-best 68.1 innings with a 2.05 ERA and a conference-leading 10 wins in 12 starts.

Ciarra Taipale (Duluth Denfeld) was also among the top UMAC hitters last season, earning All-UMAC first team, as was Katie White (Pequot Lakes, Minn.), who was an honorable mention selection.

Taipale had eight home runs and 45 RBIs while posting a .361 average. White batted .326 with 11 doubles and 25 runs. The two accounted for 86 of the Yellowjackets’ 131 combined hits returning from last season.

UWS opens its season Feb. 24-26 at the Finlandia Dome tournament in Marquette, Mich. The Yellowjackets were 1-3 last year at the Superior Dome, competing in three extra-inning games. This year UWS will play UW-Stevens Point, UW-Oshkosh, Marian and Concordia (Wis.).

The Yellowjackets will then take part in the Gene Cusic Classic March 17-24 in Fort Meyers, Fla. UWS was 10-4 in Florida a season ago. Key match-ups will be against regional foe Marian University and two against conference rival Crown.

UWS is scheduled to open UMAC play at Martin Luther College on  April 1 and play its first home game against Northland College April 5.

’JACKET JOTTINGS: Plachta has an overall record of 323-276-1 at UWS. … UWS was 5-1 at Liebaert Field. … UWS finished fourth in the conference batting .285 as a team last season. … Nine first-year players will join UWS this season in an effort to make up for 10 players that have left the Yellowjackets. … UWS and St. Scholastica will play April 11 in Duluth. … In the past three seasons St. Scholastica has won 54 of 55 regular season UMAC games and has captured eight straight regular-season titles and 19 in the last 20 years.

2017 UMAC Softball

Preseason Coaches’ Poll

  1. St. Scholastica (8)............................ 64
  2. UW-Superior (1)................................ 56
  3. Northwestern..................................... 51
  4. Crown................................................ 38
  5. Minnesota Morris.............................. 37
  6. Bethany Lutheran............................. 29
  7. Martin Luther..................................... 21
  8. Northland.......................................... 20
  9. North Central....................................... 8

2017 UW-Superior Softball Roster

1 Lizzy Borgwardt................... OF           OF         Verona

2 Hailey Adair...................... RHP         Fr.          Brooklyn Park, Minn.

4 Traci Popple....................... OF           Sr.         Jim Falls, Wis.

5 Katie White..................... RHP/IF       Jr.          Pequot Lakes, Minn.

8 Bobbi Jean Miller.............. IF/C          Fr.          Oak Grove, Minn.

9 Ciarra Taipale..................... OF           Jr.          Duluth, Denfeld

10 Gabby Gidley.................... IF           So.         Superior

12 Michayla Grahek.............. OF          So.         Forest Lake, Minn.

13 Bailey Kinnunen............... IF            Fr.          Grand Rapids, Minn.

14 Emma Koski..................... IF            Fr.          Barnum, Minn.

16 Bailey Armstrong.......... RHP/IF       So.         Scandia, Minn.

17 Saige Patrick.................... IF           So.         Steinbach, Man.

18 Mariah Linder.................... OF           Fr.          Grand Rapids

21 Sarah Hendrickson......... RHP         Sr.         Duluth Denfeld.

22 Damara Theis.................... IF            Fr.          Shakopee, Minn.

23 Maggie Cragg.................... IF            Fr.          Champlin, Minn.

24 Sarah Fjeran.................... Util.          Fr.          Duluth Marshall

25 Shelby Gerken.................. IF            Sr.         Baraboo, Wis.

27 Kayla Hartl................... RHP/OF      So.         Medford, Wis.

29 Megan Pehrson............... RHP         Fr.          Grand Rapids, Minn.

33 Sydnye Zalewski............... C            Fr.          Baraboo, Wis.

UW-Superior Softball Schedule

Finlandia Dome Tournament

Fri., Feb. 24.................................. vs. Stevens Point, 7 p.m.

Sat.., Feb. 25............................... vs. UW-Oshkosh, 9 a.m.

Sun., Feb. 26............................... vs. Marian, 11 a.m.

Sun.., Feb. 26.............................. vs. Concordia (Wis.), 11 a.m.

Gene Cusic Classic - Fort Meyers, Fla.

Fri., March 17............................... vs. Marian, 8 a.m.

Fri., March 17............................... vs. Centenary (N.J.), 10 a.m.

Sat., March 18............................. vs. Castleton (Vt.), 8 p.m.

Sat., March 18............................. vs. Crown, noon

Mon., March 20............................ vs. Manchester (2), 8 a.m.

Tue., March 21............................. vs. Ave Maria (Fla), 10 a.m.

Tue., March 21............................. vs. North Central, noon

Thur., March 23............................ vs. Crown, 10 a.m.

Thur., March 23............................ vs. Manchester, noon

Fri., March 24............................... vs. Florida SW, 8 a.m.

Fri., March 24............................... vs. Manchester, noon

Sat., April 1.................................. at Martin Luther (2), noon

Wed., April 5................................ vs. Northland (2), 3:30 p.m.

Sat., April 8.................................. at Morris (2), 1 p.m.

Tue., April 11............................... at St. Scholastica (2), 3:30 p.m.

Thur., April 13.............................. vs. Crown (2), 3 p.m.

Wed., April 19.............................. vs. Northwestern (2), 3:30 p.m.

Sat., April 22................................ at Bethany Lutheran, 1 p.m.

Sat., April 29   vs. North Central (2), 1 p.m.

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