Handful of close games could have made notable difference in 2014 Waukon softball season

The 2014 Waukon softball team played to an overall season record of 7-25 this summer, posting a mark of 2-16 to place seventh in the final seven-team Northeast Iowa Conference standings. A reversal of a handful of close games this season - nine contests decided by three runs or less - would have evened out that season mark, but this season’s diamond crew seemed to make things a bit more difficult for itself with some offensive and defensive woes.
“Our greatest challenges throughout the season were producing runs and minimizing errors,” Waukon softball coach Bob Wasson said. “For next season, I think that the girls will need an increased focus on hitting during the pre-season, and that with more experience the number of errors will hopefully decline as well.”
Despite those challenges, the Indians were still competitive in most all their games, tallying some memorable moments along the way. “Our come-from-behind conference win at Decorah was a memorable win and was in the middle of a four-game win streak,” Coach Wasson recalled.
That four-game stretch of victories early in the season once had the Tribe at just a 5-7 season record, but three different stretches of seven-game losing streaks during the season took their toll on the Indians’ win-loss record. Even those losses, however, provided some memorable moments, as the Indians played Northeast Iowa Conference champion Waverly-Shell Rock to a pair of narrow losses this season, 0-2 and 0-3.
A trio of seniors paced the veteran experience effort for this year’s team, Kiersten Christianson, Jenna Jones and McKayla Stock being multi-year varsity letterwinners and playing their final games in a Waukon uniform. The trio represents a pretty crucial infield defensive triangle, with Jones behind the plate, Stock at first base and Christianson playing shortstop, in addition to some center field, and all three posted some statistical leadership numbers.
“Kiersten and McKayla were co-leaders in RBI (18 each) this year,” Coach Wasson said. “Jenna did a nice job of catching three very different pitchers this year, and she led the team with the fewest strike-outs (just five in 70 at-bats) this year.”
An abundance of statistical leadership is still slated to return for the softball Indians next season. Sophomore Kaley Benzing paced most of the Tribe’s offensive efforts in her varsity debut this season, compiling team highs of 33 hits, a .367 batting average and an on-base percentage of .447. Junior Allie Schwartz was not far behind with second-best totals of 27 hits and a .290 batting average while posting her own team highs of 26 runs scored, nine doubles and three triples while also being one of six Indians to hit at least one home run this season. In fact, of the seven home runs hit by the Indians this season, four of them came off the bats of freshmen, with Emma Johnson pacing that youngest Indian power surge with two round-trippers this season in her first-ever varsity action.
Junior Thea Meyer paced the Indians’ pitching effort this season, earning herself the Tribe’s only All-Conference recognition this season as an Honorable Mention selection. Meyer threw 128 of the Indians’ 198 innings in the circle this season, also leading the Indians in strike-outs and with a 3.50 earned run average (ERA) and opposing batting average of .250. She also posted more than half the Indians’ victories and kept the Indians competitive in many of their other losses, including the aforementioned 0-2 and 0-3 losses to NEIC-leading Waverly-Shell Rock.
No matter what kind of leadership numbers return for the Indians next season, Coach Wasson knows there is work that needs to be done between now and then if there is going to be any improvement upon this year’s win-loss record. “There needs to be much more hitting work done in the off-season, and our pitchers need to continue to work on increasing their speed and location of their pitches,” he offered. “All of the girls would benefit from participating in track to help increase their quickness.”
However, completion of the 2014 softball season has also brought to a close - at least for now - Coach Wasson’s tenure at the helm of Waukon softball, as he submitted his resignation from the position shortly after the season was done. “My decision to resign was based mainly upon me being hired as the head girls track coach,” he said. “If I was to continue as the softball coach, that would have had me coaching during all four sports seasons (as he is a football and basketball coach as well), and that would keep me from my family more than I would like. I will miss working with the girls and I hope for nothing but the best for them and the softball program in the coming seasons.
“Three years ago I was approached to fill a vacancy (in the coaching ranks of Waukon softball) and was very happy to help out. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working with the girls and will always remember our incredible run at the end of our 2012 season that culminated with a trip to the State Tournament.”
No official decisions have been made on a replacement for Coach Wasson at this point in time.