Strong finish, signings, raises Riverwomen's expectations for next yearby Dave Kinworthy
The women's softball team headed into the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament red-hot, but ran into a couple of bumps along the way to a fourth place finish in the tournament.
In the first round of the GLVC tournament, UM-St. Louis defeated Wisconsin-Parkside 4-1. Kathleen Rogoz pitched a strong seven innings, allowing one run on seven hits with six strikeouts to her credit.
Rogoz even helped herself offensively by getting two hits and driving in a run.
Two hours later, the Riverwomen took on no. 1 seeded SIU-Edwardsville and lost 6-1.
Jennifer Vancil got two hits in the game, while Sybil Wall scored the only run for the Riverwomen.
In game three of the GLVC tournament, UM-St. Louis soundly defeated Quincy 5-1 to ensure a top four finish in the tournament.
Catcher Andrea Wirkus had a solid performance as she hit a home run and had two hits while driving in a pair.
The Riverwomen then encountered rival Southern Indiana and lost a heartbreaker 1-0.
UM-St. Louis was held to just two hits by USI pitcher Amy Stetler (18-7 on the season). Kathleen Rogoz took the loss for the Riverwomen, who finished up the season 15-8 overall.
Utility player Jennifer Vancil and pitcher Kathleen Rogoz were both named to the First Team All-GLVC conference team. Andrea Sczurko was also named as a Second Team All-Conference selection.
With the Riverwomen returning an abundance of talent for the following season, Head Coach Charlie Kennedy is only thinking about the positives from this season.
"We had a lot of talent, but it just took a lot of time for it to jell," Kennedy said. "In the last two and a half weeks, we went 10-3. We would liked to have been the conference champions and bring back the championship to Mark Twain."
The Riverwomen have gone through many changes this season, but the highlight of them all is the advantage of having a place to call home.
"It was a great accomplishment to go 12-4 at home this season," Kennedy said. "We are excited about using our field during the offseason for camps and clinics for fundraisers. We would have loved to host the conference championship next year because the conference winner hosts the tournament the following season."
As the season came to an abrupt end, Kennedy put his efforts into improving his team for the following season.
The Riverwomen have officially signed three women to play at UM-St. Louis next year.
First baseman Ashley Tooley from Wabash Valley, Il. signed an official letter of intent to play for the Riverwomen next season. Tooley this season has hit eight homeruns and drove in 42 runs.
Other commitments include catcher Holly Messenbrink from McCluer North, the runner-up in 4A this past year and utility infielder Erin Shepherd from Francis Howell.
As UM-St. Louis has three signed already, Kennedy is not yet satisfied with his squad for next year.
"I am still looking for a freshman pitcher and middle infielder," Kennedy said. "You have to have a great turnover ratio, so we know what we have to do for next season."