Softball Tigers set sights high

By Stephen Glover

History has a good knack for repeating itself and such seems to be the case with the girls’ softball team at Oakville Senior High School.

The Tigers (16-2, 3-1 Suburban South) are on a quest to repeat, if not improve on the 2001 squad’s third place finish at the state championships. Oakville Head Coach Rich Strum has been more than delighted with the play of this season’s squad.

“Before the season started, if anyone would have told me that we would be 16-2, I would have told them that they were crazy,” Strum told the Call. “Our defense has been unbelievable and we’re hitting the ball really well.”

Including the past weekend, the Tigers were on a grueling eight-game schedule in just five days.

In fact, Oakville took runners-up honors at the Seckman Tournament over the weekend. The Tigers were stymied by Lindbergh starting pitcher Sarah Dooley in a 1-0 loss to the Flyers.

“We had three good scoring chances but just couldn’t convert,” Strum said. “It was a long day for us.”

Oakville is lead this season by its four seniors who have spent the past three seasons on the varsity squad. Third baseman Becky Wegmann, center fielder Kelly Werner, right fielder Nickie Jones and first baseman Sherri Johnson all provide a solid foundation to the Tigers’ success, according to their head coach.

“You can have all the talent in the world, but without leadership, you won’t go anywhere,” Strum said. “My four seniors are like my field generals out there.”

Wegmann, who’s headed to Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, has carried a hot bat throughout the season with a .396 batting average. Wegmann is tied for the team lead in home runs (2) and stolen bases (5) this season with her younger sister Miriam a sophomore at Oakville.

“Becky’s our catalyst and is a tremendous talent,” Strum said. “Miriam’s been just tearing it up and is having an outstanding year.”

The Tigers also have a hot pitching tandem in sophomores Alyssa Kernen and Kara Wheeler. Kernen currently carries a record of 11-2 with a 0.46 earned run average in 75.3 innings pitched and 57 strikeouts.

Wheeler also has been quite successful against the Tigers’ foes with a record of 5-0 with a 0.53 earned run average with 11 strikeouts in 26.7 innings pitched.

“Alyssa knows what she has to do in order to get people out,” Strum said. “Kara’s had some tough games and went in and shut down some really good teams this season.”

Sophomore Allyson Stanton and Lindsay Degonia are two other players that are making a solid impact on this year’s squad. Stanton currently is batting a respectable .326 this season with a team leading 12 runs batted in this season. Degonia on the other hand is swatting a .378 average with a team high five doubles and 11 RBI.

“Allyson is very strong with tremendous bat speed,” Strum said. “Lindsay does a great job at putting the ball into play. She is just a good athlete.”

Junior designated hitter Stephanie Lange has been solid at the plate throughout the season according to Strum. She currently is batting .278 with 10 singles, one double, one triple and three RBI.

Oakville returns to action at 7 p.m. today — Sept. 25 — as it travels to Parkway South for an important conference match with the Patriots.