July 6, 2017
By David Nordby The Brillion News
BRILLION – Members of the Brillion softball team are not slowing down following their record setting season. Many of the girls have committed to the sport year-round, with some playing six to 10 games a week in the summer. Some also play in the fall and winter including at Player’s Choice in Appleton.
“When you have girls playing year-round, that really helps,” head coach Chris Gade said.
The summer involvement has taken off over the last decade for Brillion and it’s been paying dividends for the Lions each spring.
Gade says that the girls who play in the summer bring added experience to the program. “The more they play, the better they get,” Gade said.
Brillion finished the regular season 19-2 overall, good for the first conference championship in program history. The team success wasn’t the only history being made though, the core group of girls who will return for their senior season in 2018 are rewriting the record books.
Junior pitcher Courtney Hackbarth set single season records with 20 wins and a 1.77 ERA. She also holds the career record with 44 wins. She began pitching in Brillion’s summer program when she was around eight years old, showing the power of the program.
Gade also added that girls can throw windmill pitches when they’re eight years old now, which helps by the time they get to the high school level.
Hackbarth was a unanimous first team Eastern Wisconsin Conference selection. With her senior season, Hackbarth has a chance to surpass 500 career strikeouts.
Hackbarth’s relationship with sophomore catcher Marissa Heraly was a key to the Lions setting a season record in runs allowed with just 49. “They know each other very well and the catcher knows what the pitcher can do,” Gade said.
Heraly was also a first team all-conference selection. Carmen Yost was another unanimous first team all-conference selection.
Yost’s athleticism helped her set a single season Brillion record with 23 stolen bases and has totaled 51 in her career.
Yost had a season batting average of .486, another single season record. She also currently stands in third place in career hits with 108 behind McKenna Wenzel (120) and Alyssa Olp (130).
Ariel Heraly and Paige Kraus were both second team all-conference selections. Cailey Nies was an honorable mention player.
It wasn’t all sophomore and junior players making the difference for the Lions. The team will lose Hannah Beyer, who is the all-time program leader with 20 doubles.
The best part about the girls, per Gade, is that they love the sport and care about winning as a team more than personal records.
“They’re not worried about where they are with their batting average,” Gade said. Gade says the team doesn’t over celebrate when things are going well, and they don’t blame each other for things that aren’t going well, though those moments were few and far between this past season.
“They’re pretty level headed,” Gade said. “They don’t get worked up … It’s nice to have a team like that.”
Please see the complete story in the July 6, 2017 edition of The Brillion News.