Pitchers Lorrie Luepke and Kiana Weiler have led Stratford softball to a 6-2 start
By Paul Lecker
STRATFORD — Having an experienced, top-level pitcher in high school softball is something every team seeks. Having two is a luxury not many teams can claim.
The Stratford softball team has two aces, and the Tigers have been riding the arms of Lorrie Luepke and Kiana Weiler to an impressive start to their season.
Following Tuesday’s win at Pittsville, Stratford is 6-2 and a perfect 4-0 in the Marawood Conference South Division as it searches for another conference title.
“They (Luepke and Weiler) are so supportive of one another,” said Stratford coach Mandy Pankratz, who led the Tigers to a share of the Marawood South championship last year with Marathon. “They are such team players and know how important it is for both to get innings. Sometimes people get selfish, but that’s not the case with them.
“They’ve been doing a nice job and are getting better locating their pitches. They love to work and love to pitch.”
Luepke and Weiler are both 3-1 on the mound for the Tigers, and they have allowed seven hits or less in all but one start this season.
As is typical in the spring sports season in central Wisconsin, weather has played a role early in the year.
The Tigers have had seven games rescheduled already, including a three-game tournament in Poynette that will be made up May 6-7.
A showdown with Marathon, who is also unbeaten in the Marawood South, was postponed on Monday, leaving the Tigers with a daunting schedule ahead. Starting with a doubleheader Friday against Northland Lutheran, Stratford is scheduled to play nine games in eight days.
“(Monday) we were set to play Marathon up until 3:15 p.m. when another shower came through, and then we had to figure out where we were going to practice instead,” Pankratz said. “It’s been tough and hard to keep the kids motivated sometimes, but hats off to them. Whether we practice inside or outside, they are coming prepared and trying to just get better every day.”
Brittany Bredemann, an all-conference first-team selection last season, has served as the Tigers’ leadoff hitter, setting the table for a lineup that has had double-digits in hits in six of its eight games.
Bredemann has 15 hits this season, getting two or more in all but one contest.
Freshman Macey Kilty has stepped into the No. 2 spot, and with a combination of Luepke, Kaylee Geiger, Sammy Kasier, Casey Kolbeck, Sammy Griesbach, Weiler, and Val Licciardi hitting behind Bredemann and Kilty, Stratford’s offense has been cooking thus far.
“I’m pretty proud of where we are offensively,” Pankratz said. “Against Assumption (on April 22), against a good pitcher, that was one of the best hitting performances (nine runs and 12 hits) we’ve seen in the last couple of years. We are tough one through nine.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.