MAYVILLE – There was no one better in the Flyway Conference last year than Libby Schellpfeffer. With the 2015 prep softball season underway, the Mayville senior is hoping for a repeat performance this year, but this time with a happier ending for the Cardinals.
Last spring, en route to winning Flyway Conference Player of the Year honors, Schellpfeffer went 9-1 in the circle with a 0.93 ERA and 81 strikeouts and hit .522 with six doubles, a triple, a home run and 19 RBIs in conference play as the Mayville softball team went 23-3 overall and won the Flyway.
Pitching, hitting, fielding — Schellpfeffer did it all, evidenced by her selection as an honorable mention Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association All-Valley/Lakeshore District utility player in 2014. Of course, the talent was there, but she credits most of her success as a player to the hard work she puts in both in-season and in the offseason.
“I work hard in practice,” Schellpfeffer said. “I’m very dedicated to the sport I’m in. I put full effort into what I do. I try to lead by example, that’s why I was chosen captain. I just work hard and try to do the best I possibly can. I work outside of practice and do drills and other stuff that will make me a better player.”
First-year Mayville softball coach Steve Pliner recognizes how important Schellpfeffer is to the Cardinals’ success, wherever she is on the field. As an all-around player, Schellpfeffer isn’t limited to producing as only a pitcher or only a hitter. She’s vital to the Cardinals when she’s in the circle, in the batter’s box or roaming center field.
“I think she brings a lot to the game other than just pitching,” Pliner said. “She’s a great hitter. She’s a phenomenal centerfielder and she’s going to do some of that this year, too. One our goals for her is to make sure she’s fresh and healthy and ready to go when we hit playoffs. We’re not going to throw her every inning of every game, but we’re going to give her as much work as she can handle while still staying healthy. We’ve got some pretty lofty goals this year.”
One of those goals is for Mayville to win another Flyway Conference championship, which would be the Cardinals’ fourth in a row. Another is certainly to advance further in the WIAA playoffs, possibly all the way to state.
Last year, top-seeded Mayville was upset by No. 3 seed Grafton 4-3 in the regional final round of the Division 2 playoffs, an abrupt ending to a season many thought could end in Madison.
Is Schellpfeffer using that disappointment as motivation for this season? You bet.
“We all made little mistakes in that game (against Grafton) and I made some hitting (mistakes),” Schellpfeffer said. “I’m going to try to get better so I know that I can do everything I possibly can so our team can go further in the playoffs.”
After taking conference player of the year honors a season ago as a junior, Schellpfeffer, and her coach, understandably have some high expectations this season.
“I hope that I can be as successful as I was last year and also bring my team that much success,” Schellpfeffer said. “I’m hoping that it will lead us on the road to state and that my teammates will build off the success I have throughout the year. … I want to be player of the year again. I want to win conference. I want to get 100 strikeouts. I guess just win every inning pitching-wise. If I pitch, I want to be able to win every inning.”
For Pliner, Schellpfeffer’s success will be predicated on her continued hard work.
“I think she just needs to keep working hard,” he said. “She’s a good pitcher. Very good at moving the ball around, very good at spinning the ball. I think she’s going to have a great year. There’s no doubt in my mind.”
As the senior captain on a fairly young, but talented squad, Pliner pointed out that Schellpfeffer may mean more to Mayville this year than ever. If the Cardinals are going to four-peat as Flyway champs and make a run at state, Schellpfeffer will need to be in player-of-the-year form.
“As of right now, she’s the only senior in the starting lineup,” Pliner said. “She’s got a lot of leading to do. She’s going to bring a lot to this team. She’ll be hitting in either the No. 3 or No. 4 spot all year. She’s going to play a huge part in what we’ve got going on, for sure.”
Sam Oleson: (920) 907-7930 or firstname.lastname@example.org