Lions' leaders honored for stellar work
Eisenhower's junior catcher, three seniors on All-Suburban team
New Berlin — During the 2006 and 2007 softball seasons, all-conference player Chelsea Schwabe was firmly entrenched at catcher for the New Berlin Eisenhower Lions, forcing Megan Duerlinger to the outfield.
This season, with Schwabe having graduated, Duerlinger had no one in her way and her catching debut coincided with a breakout season. The junior batted .421 during the regular season, drove in 28 runs, scored 28 and hit six home runs. She made the all-Woodland Conference team and was a first-team Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association selection. She was also one of four Lions named to the NOW All-Suburban Softball Team.
"When I was a freshman, I didn't know a lot of the (varsity) players," Duerlinger said. "You're afraid to do crazy things because you don't know how the (upperclassmen) will react. It was just uncomfortable. As a sophomore, I was more comfortable and my numbers started to go up because I got a lot more playing time.
"This year, people relied on me as a key player and that gave me a lot of confidence. I was really excited to start the season and to catch."
Eisenhower senior pitchers Lauren Beres and Kayla Schlegel and senior outfielder Liz Wiese also made the All-Suburban team.
"We're going to have our work cut out for us trying to replace those players," Eisenhower coach Jeff Setz said of his seniors.
But Duerlinger will return after developing into one of the state's best both behind and at the plate.
"The thing that stands out is her throwing arm," Setz said. "Her arm is one of the strongest that I've ever seen."
Pitchers split time
Speaking of strong arms, Beres and Schlegel became the first pitchers named to the All-Suburban team in consecutive seasons. Both were behind Kim Perla in Eisenhower's pitching rotation as freshmen and sophomores before exploding onto the scene together as juniors. When the dust settled, Schlegel finished 27-1 and Beres was 24-4. Beres, the Woodland North Division player of the year and a second-team WFSCA all-state choice, walked only eight batters in four seasons.
"Usually at the end of the year we talk about one outstanding pitcher we're losing and the shoes someone has to fill," Setz said. "The next player that (pitches) has to fill four shoes."
Setz said he tried to work the pair as equally as possible. Going into the final game of the season, only a third of an inning separated their workloads.
"I loved working with Kayla," Beres said. "It took some adjusting (to split time), but you can see how it works out. Good college teams and even past Olympic teams have four or five pitchers. Opponents have a harder time adjusting to two pitchers."
The two aces helped Eisenhower win the WIAA Division 2 state title in 2008; the pair allowed only two earned runs in 14 state tournament innings.
"Splitting time helped us a lot," Schlegel said. "In the days leading up to state, we had to play doubleheaders and it was beneficial for us to have a fresh pitcher instead of having someone pitch every game."
College game calls
Beres will pitch at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay next fall and Schlegel will do the same at Cardinal Stritch University where she will room with her new catcher, Hillary Trebiatowski, who won consecutive Division 1 state titles at Stevens Point.
Wiese's varsity path was blocked by two-time All-Suburban selection Amanda Sudfeld before Wiese herself was a two-time All-Suburban pick.
"Eisenhower has an extremely strong softball program and there are a lot of great players," Wiese said. "Amanda was an excellent outfielder and I just had to wait my turn. All of us had the same thing. There are so many good players at each position. It's a good thing."
→ See the entire All-Suburban Softball Team
→ Read profiles on the coach and player of the year
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