What a difference a year makes. Last season, Nebraska Wesleyan’s softball team started 1-17 and finished 10-28. This year, the Prairie Wolves are already 14-4 and breaking records in pitching and home runs with 20 games remaining on the 2006 schedule.
Ashley Tiedgen (So., Lincoln, Neb., Southeast High School) improved to 9-1 on the mound so far this season with three wins in the last three days. Hers is the best start for a pitcher in NWU history, and she has a shot at Kelly Sheaff’s record for most wins in a single season set in 1994 (16).
Things have improved at the plate as well. Erin Starkey (So., Grand Island, Neb., Grand Island High School) broke Michelle Forsberg’s single-season home run record with her sixth round tripper of the year in a sweep at Dakota Wesleyan University last night.
Starkey and teammate Vicki Ortmeier (Jr., Blair, Neb., Blair High School) were tied previously tied for the team lead with five, and Tiedgen has two home runs of her own, giving the trio 13 homers between them, the most ever in a season at Nebraska Wesleyan. The team’s previous best came in 1993, when players combined to hit 12.
“These three players have provided much of the power, but the team effort is what has allowed us to be successful,” Head Coach Lance Kingery said. “Defense behind good pitching, and timely hitting has been the key ingredient to our early success.”
The team RBI leader in 2005 had 13 runs batted in for the season, but Ortmeier (21), Starkey (27) and Tiedgen (22) have all easily surpassed that number in just 18 games.
Nebraska Wesleyan hosts four Great Plains Athletic Conference foes during the next seven days, including two games tonight against the preseason GPAC favorite, Midland Lutheran College. All games are doubleheaders and will be played at University Place Park at 49th & Francis.
Tonight – Midland Lutheran College, 5 p.m.
Thursday – Briar Cliff University, 5 p.m.
Friday – University of Sioux Falls, 2 p.m.
Monday – Doane College, 5 p.m.