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Tonight we feature 5 Division 2 teams

03/06/2019, 9:00pm CST
By Bob Tomlinson

A peek at Kewaskum, Portage, Adams-Friendship, Merrill and Shawano


Division 2 – Enrollment this school year is 598 – Sectional #4 at Ploymouth
Conference – Eastern Wisconsin
Head Coach – Jeff Gosse – 17th Year (227-134) – 2 Conference titles, 2 regional titles, one Final Four
Assistant Coach is Ken Franke (WFSCA Hall of Fame member)

Kewaskum enters the season as the Fastpitch Chronicle’s top ranked Division 2 team. It was a close vote after a great conversation. It was between and defending champion Whitnall.  Head coach Jeff Gosse says that his teams strengths are that they return eight starters including senior pitcher Kenndy Lehn wand Maddie Geidel a senior outfielder who were both WFSCA post season all district and all state honorees. Other returning letterwinners include: Tara Thuesch a senior infielder, Leah Theusch a senior infielder/pitcher, Ashley Trapp a senior infielder and Kaitlyn Leithesier a junior outfielder. Gosse feels that his battery will be really strong as will the defense Lehn will have behind her. He believes the backup players need to step up and accept their roles and they need to get valuable game time to keep the program going strong after those seniors graduate. He sees his own team along with Waupun, Campbellsport and Kettle Moraine Lutheran as the top teams in the Eastern Wisconsin conference. When tourney time rolls around his club will certainly be the favorite with Waupun, Grafton and KML looking to knock them off and earn the trip to the FINAL FOUR.


Divison 2 – Enrollment this school year is 765. Sectional 3 in Evansville
Conference – Badger North
Head Coach – Connie Wampler – 5th Year – (63-39) 1 Regional title  1 Sectional Title – 1 Final Four
Assistant Coaches: Dave Mills, Megan Jacobs, Morgan Mills, Matt Denure, Joe Woodhouse

Portage put things together in 2018 finish with a 21-5 record, won the regional took the sectional and was a Final Four team losing to Whitnall in the state semi-final 2-1. Head Coach Connie Wampler played high school softball at Wisconsin Dells and led her team to a state title in 1995. She has assembled a knowledgeable group of assistant coaches who will have to find pitching to replace Megan Witt who graduated last spring. The likely replacement to begin with, is Joia Simonson a senior three time letter winner and first team all-conference performer. Also returning are all-conference players Olivia Limmex, Brianna Brandner and Katelyn Belleau. Simonson was also named first team All-District. “We return six starters from a team that made it to the state semi-final,” said the coach. “We have some good team speed and will be working hard on bunting and base running once we get going.” She views DeForest and Waunakee as the top teams in the Badger North but includes her own club in the mix for that top spot.


Division 2 – Enrollment this year is 491 – Sectional 3 in Evansville
Conference – South Central
Head Coach – Bryan Brom – 6th Year – (64-46) 3 Conference titles, 2 regional titles
Assistant Coaches: Alysia Klawitter, Luke Thompson, Mary Peterson

The Green Devils won three consecutive South Central titles in the past five years. Head Coach Bryan Brom returns one all conference player in Peyton Hiller. He and his staff will be trying to mold a contender to challenge last year’s conference champion, Westfield and always strong Wisconsin Dells with a group of young players. “We do have some experience to help us carry over,” said the coach. “The challenge is going to be figuring out where all the pieces fit together to give us the strongest club possible. When it comes tourney time Brom thinks the favorites are Delavan-Darien, Monroe and Whitnall. With some poking and prodding and Brom’s history of title success the Green Devils just could create a stir in the South Central.


Division 2 – Enrollment this year is 873 – Sectional 1 at Baldwin-Woodville
Conference – Wisconsin Valley
Head Coach Matt Ellenbecker – 8th year (84-59) – 3 Regional titles
Assistant Coaches: Lindsay Doescher, Ben Natzke, Cliff Prahl, Emily Heckdorf

If you keep track of Wisconsin high school softball then you probably view Merrill as you do Rice Lake. Both of those schools are Division 2 in the eyes of the WIAA but both play in a conference where every other team is a Division 1 foe and many of those foes are some of the state’s strongest programs. For instance think about Stevens Point Area High School. Also take a close look at the history behind Marshfield, Wisconsin Rapids, DC Everest and even Wausau West. Since the late 1990s the only team to win the Wisconsin Valley Conference title is SPASH. Merrill however, has given the Panthers a run for their money many times the past eight years. Matt Ellenbeck is an excellent leader and will have a lot of talent in the program this year and beyond even after graduating a solid group of players last spring. “We will be much younger than last year,” said the coach. “Gaining experience as we move through the season is going to be vital.” Ellenbecker says he believes his club will have good team speed and will be very athletic with versatile defenders. “I really believe we have some quality young bats that are ready to battle against varsity level pitchers. The first couple of weeks of practice will be very competitive. We need to get the pieces fit together so it will be interesting to see how that plays out. Merrill reuturns all conference players Kelsie Belfori who was also honorable mention all-district; Megan Schroeder and Ally Semling. When it comes to his thoughts on the conference race Ellenbecker had this to say, “SPASH has owned the Wisconsin Valley Conference. They are the favorite again but I think the WVC will have great depth this season. DCE is always tough and Rapids will have a tough crew. The Wausau schools will have improved teams as well. Marshfield lost some big time players but they will restock. Mosinee returns a bunch from their sectional championship squad and have to be the favorites in the D2 sectional.” Under Ellenbecker’s leadership the Merrill club will compete with all of them.


Divison 2 – Enrollment is 785 this school year – Sectional 2 at Wrightstown
Conference – Bay
Head Coach Brian Johnson – 19th Year (237-135) 3 Conference Titles, 2 Sectional Titles – 2 Final Fours 1 State Championship
Assistant Coaches: Ty Raddant and Tom Kristof

Head Coach Brian Johnson enters his 19th year (not consecutive) and returns one all conference player in Gracyn Habek.  When asked who he sees as the conference favorite he answered West De Pere and Seymour while the half sectional favorite in his mind is either West De Pere or Freedom. As for his team, Johnson says, “we will need to be more consistent with our pitching and hitting. We will be solid when it comes to our defense.

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