Sunday, April 19, 2009

Finally – an update!

Hello Blugold Fastpitch Fans!
I know it's been way too long since I last posted, but things have been crazy busy. I know it's no excuse, but I'm going to use it as one anyway! :)

We've played a LOT of games since I last posted, including a grueling week this past week, which was supposed to end with a doubleheader at Whitewater today. Well, that game got postponed to tomorrow (Monday, 4/20), but that's looking a little "iffy" as well, due to rain. It's a frustrating position to be in - the travel time, costs, and taking players out of class are all real issues......and the missed class time, especially as we draw near to finals week. But you can't do anything about the weather, and unfortunately we have to rely on forecasts that are far from you just do the best you can and hope you've made the right decision. We probably could have played today, but with 70-80% chance of rain in the forecast for today, it made sense to postpone.

I'm not going to breakdown the past 3 weeks of games at this point - it would take me all night to recall everything - but I will just mention that yesterday our team played with a refreshed passion and we saw a lot of good things - from our pitchers, to our defense, to our bats. We're hoping we can sustain the momentum at this point and make a real run in the WIAC Tournament in a couple weeks.

One final note tonight - we had our last home game last Wednesday vs. St. Norbert College. My parents were at the game and had a green Army-issued blanket with them. They brought it back with them from Germany when my Dad's enlistment time was's over 40 years old......well, it was sitting in a spot on the bleachers behind home plate, and when they went to grab it after the games were over, it was gone......someone had taken it. It's very unfortunate that it was taken, and my parents were obviously (and still are) upset that they no longer have it. My mom asked me to mention it in my blog, with hopes that whoever took the blanket might read this and have the decency to return it. If you have it and you are reading this, you can return the blanket to the UW Eau Claire Athletic Department - no questions asked.......we'd just like to have that blanket back - as insignificant as it might seem to anyone else.

Thanks for reading.

Coach H.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Leave a Legacy Weekend – A SUCCESS!!!

Good evening Blugold Fans!

I am writing after a little down time today, and after reflecting on what a great day (although completely exhausting) it was yesterday as we celebrated our "Leave a Legacy Weekend." The past 4 days have been a flurry of activity.

Wednesday - home opener scheduled vs. St. Norbert College. Cancelled at about 10 a.m. due to snow and cold conditions. We ended up rescheduling for April 15th at 4 p.m. at Gelein Field.

Thursday - second attempt at our "official" home opener - also WIAC opener vs. UW River Falls. It was a pretty nice day and we played both games against a scrappy Falcon team - we managed to win both games.

Friday - our rescheduled doubleheader vs. UW Platteville. This game was originally scheduled for today, but given the weather forecast, Platteville agreed with the idea of moving the game to Friday at 2:00. It turned out to be a beautiful day and again, we managed to win both games.

Saturday - this doubleheader was played as originally scheduled as well against UW LaCrosse. It was a big day for us, as the day started with a tailgate party in Carson Park near the ball diamond. BBQ Express catered the event, and I was told it was very successful. We weren't able to attend the tailgate because we were preparing for the game.

The game, of course, was the main event, but there were a lot of prize giveaways, and 3 pink jerseys that were signed by the team were raffled off as a fundraiser for Breast Cancer Awareness, as well as for our softball program. The jerseys were replicas of the pink jerseys that our players wore yesterday.

Prior to game 1, we recognized the 4 seniors on the team this year - Kristi Doucette, Jen Barron, Betsy Kettinger, and Bri Sturm.

Also prior to game 1, Sandy Schumacher threw out a ceremonial first pitch - this is the second year she has done it and she is pretty amazing. You should see this woman play golf!!!! (more on who Sandy is in an upcoming paragraph)

Game 1 was a marathon - one of the longest 7 inning games I've been in - it lasted almost 2 1/2 hours. Two pitching changes by each team, a total of almost 30 hits, and 18 runs, along with many other substitutions of pinch runners, etc., and that equals a LONG GAME! It really felt like a 10 round prize fight - both teams battled all game long - back and forth......but when it was said and done, we came out on top in that one 10-8.

In between games all the alumnae in attendance were recognized on the field - it was amazing to see all the former players who made the time and effort to come back this year - I was so proud..... :)

Game 2 was a very different story. Still a lot of hits, but not as many runs - and not much defense on our part, that's for sure. We committed 4 physical errors, and if they used mental errors as a statistic, we probably would have set a single game record in that category. I was pretty disappointed in our defense, but the things that happened are things that can be fixed, and if we can clean that up, we'll finish strong. I take nothing away from UW LaCrosse, however. They are tough - they are very fast up and down their lineup and they executed well. They are a solid fundamental team, and I expect them to finish very high in the league this year.

We didn't spend much time dwelling on the games right after Game 2, as we all had to get moving to get cleaned up for our Leave a Legacy Reception and dinner, which was supposed to start at 6:30. I think it was about 5:45 when we got done at the field, so we all rushed out so we could finish up the weekend at the Quality Inn, who was one of the sponsors of our event.

At the reception and dinner, Mancino's catered a pizza and pasta buffet and I heard several comments about the food being real good. I don't know - I didn't get a chance to eat......but I'm a little TOO familiar with Mancino's food, so I'm sure it was great! :)

Casey Leisgang and Jill Janke put together a video for the program but had some major technical difficulties, so we weren't able to watch it. They spent HOURS putting this video together, and they were so disappointed that it didn't work. Gotta love technology! So we're going to find a way to get the video on the internet somehow so everyone can still enjoy it. The rest of the program consisted of several alumnae getting up and speaking as part of an "open mic" type of format - the stories that were told illicited SO much laughter - I'm not sure when was the last time I laughed that hard.

Special guests at the dinner included the original coach of the club softball program at UW Eau Claire before it became a varsity sport - Sandy Schumacher, as well as the coaches that were here before Robin and me - JoEllen Bailey and Deb Steward. It was so fun to see them have a chance to spend time with so many of the players they coached while they were here. We had over 30 alumnae here for the event, and I had many comments of how much fun they had and how special it was. I think our attempt to "bridge the gap" between the players from JoEllen and Deb and the players who have played for Robin and me was a success. They ended the evening having an awful lot of fun together!

Again, Charter Communications "hit this one out of the park" with all their contributions to such a successful day. They basically put the whole day together for us - we really just had to show up. I want to give special props to Joe Buttel, Nicole Hoffman, and Marty Hendricks for all their work to make this day SO special. You guys kicked it, and I look forward to our continued relationship with you and your efforts toward Breast Cancer Awareness/Research.

Well, before I have to have carpal tunnel surgery from all this typing, I should wrap this one up. This week SHOULD be much less hectic. We have practice Monday and Tuesday, then play at UW Stout on Wednesday at 4:00, practice Thursday, and then we're home again on Friday vs. UW Superior at 4:00, before taking next weekend off for Easter. The MOST exciting thing about this week - the WEATHER looks like we're heading toward a MAJOR improvement - it's ABOUT TIME!!!!! :)

Go Tar Heels and Sooners! :)

- Coach H.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Is it really game day? Or are you just teasing?

I sit here thinking we're really playing today - game on.......and today, I really mean it. It's going to be cold, but it's no longer snowing, the grass is pretty clear, and yesterday afternoon Gelein Field was in great shape. We're playing ball today!

It's our WIAC opener today vs. UW River Falls. They are fairly young, but you just can't take any team in the WIAC for granted. Our players are very excited to play, and especially to be opening up conference play. I don't think we'll have any trouble with energy today - plus, energy will keep them warmer!

Another schedule update - we'll be playing UW Platteville THIS FRIDAY, rather than Sunday. The forecast is MUCH better on Fri. than Sunday, so it made sense to reschedule. It does put just a little damper on our Leave a Legacy weekend plans, but Saturday is going to be so full of activities that I don't think anyone will mind. Another benefit to that is that we'll be able to relax and enjoy the alumnae reception and dinner on Saturday night without having to think about playing a DH the next always works itself out.

I'd like to give special props today to Dave Olson at Parkridge Distributing. Yesterday afternoon Coach Baker and I went out to the field just to check the conditions and much to our pleasant surprise, there were 3 banners being displayed. Two on the bleachers on each side of the field, and the other on the scoreboard just below the words "Gelein Field", that says "2008 National Champions". We were very surprised when we pulled up as they are very eye-catching signs - the players are going to flip when they see them this afternoon. Dave has done, and is continuing to do, an incredible job for Blugold Athletics. He has "over-delivered" and has gone above and beyond. What a great relationship! Thank you Ole'! Dave has a little softball player, Madison, too, so if he didn't take care of us, he'd probably get scolded at home! :)

Well, time to get moving and get ready for the day - thanks for reading, and see you at the ballpark!

Coach Huntington