EDITOR'S NOTE: The Swnews4u.com Athlete of the Week is a web-only feature that will publish each Thursday throughout the calendar year.
Katie Fritz and Allison Kruser, Southwestern softball
Katie Fritz and Allison Kruser slugged their way to a combined seven hits, four runs and eight RBIs to lead Southwestern to a 16–8 victory over Cochrane–Fountain City in a WIAA Division 4 state softball semifinal game last Friday at Goodman Diamond in Madison. The Southwestern duo is this week’s Mast Water Technology Co-Athletes of the Week.
Fritz and Kruser combined for another three hits in Saturday’s state championship game against Thorp, but the Wildcats fell 9–2. Southwestern finished the year 25–4 overall, won the SWAL title and first-ever regional and sectional titles, just one year after going 13–14 in 2015.
Fritz, Southwestern’s right fielder and leadoff hitter went 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored and a game-high five RBIs in Friday’s state semifinal. Kruser, the Wildcats’ starting catcher and cleanup hitter, finished 4-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. In Southwestern’s nine-run third-inning, Fritz belted a three-run double to right center and Kruser added a two-run double as the Wildcats built a 10–1 lead. Fritz ripped a two-run double in the fourth and later scored on an error to make it 16–5.
Fritz finished the state tournament 5-for-9 with three runs, two doubles and five RBIs in two games. Kruser also went 5-for-9 with two runs and three RBIs.
“I am so proud and impressed with this group of girls for their effort, believing in the system and for working to achieve our coaches,” said Southwestern head coach John Costello of his entire team. “It’s absolutely amazing and our girls never even fathomed this. That’s what makes it even more special. I’m just glad we had the opportunity. I’m very proud of these girls and I owe it to them. They’ve done a lot of great things.”
HONORABLE MENTION (in alphabetical order):
Sami Brookens, Jr., Platteville/Lancaster girls soccer
Brookens was recently named the Southwest Wisconsin Conference Player of the Year after leading the Hillmen to a 13–6–2 overall record and a perfect 10–0 mark in league play. She scored a conference-best 32 goals in 21 matches and passed out eight assists.
Tyler Crandall, Sr., Hillsboro baseball
Crandall struck out 12 and allowed just three hits in a complete game shutout of Independence/Gilmanton in a WIAA Division 4 sectional semifinal at Cazenovia on Tuesday, June 7. Crandall also went 2-for-3 and scored a run to help his own cause. Hillsboro went on to lose the sectional final 9–8 on a heartbreaking walk-off three-run homer by Ithaca’s Joey Clary later in the day. The Tigers finished their amazing season, that included the program’s first conference title in 30 years and first regional title since 1999, 18–9 overall.
Maggie Durni, Sr., Platteville track and field
The recent Platteville graduate capped her fine prep track career by helping Team Wisconsin win the girls team title at the 18th annual Tri-State Senior All-Star Spotlight Meet held last Saturday at the University of Dubuque. Durni, a three-year state qualifier for the Hillmen, brought home a pair of gold medals in the sprint relays while posting a personal best in the long jump. She ran the third leg of Wisconsin’s winning 4x100 relay (48.45), then anchored the winning 4x200 rely (1:43.77). She also placed fifth in the long jump with a career-best jump of 17’4.5”.
Madison Kuhl, Sr., Southwestern softball
The Southwestern ace was recently named the Southwest Wisconsin Activities League Player of the Year after leading the Wildcats to a 25–4 overall mark, an outright SWAL title and a berth in the WIAA Division 4 state championship game. Kuhn went 22–4 with a 1.53 ERA, 196 strikeouts and 63 walks in 173 2/3 innings pitched. She also batted .358 (34-95) with 10 doubles and 23 RBIs.
Blake Noel and Cam Brant, Platteville summer baseball
Noel, a senior-to-be, and Brant, an incoming junior, combined to toss a six-inning no-hitter in the Platteville Merchants 13–0 victory over Darlington in the opener of the Southwest Wisconsin summer baseball league last Friday. Noel struck out eight in four hitless innings to earn the win, while Brant tossed two hitless innings to close out the game.
Paige Nolan, Jr., Belmont softball
The Belmont junior was recently named the Six Rivers West Player of the Year after leading the Braves to a 20–8 overall mark and a conference title-winning 13–1 record in Six Rivers play. Nolan hit .478 (44-for-92) with eight doubles, five homers, 43 RBIs and 17 runs scored. She also went 13–5 with a 2.36 ERA and 96 strikeouts in 107 innings pitched as Belmont’s number one pitcher.