There’s been so much bad news brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic after Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers extended the “safer-at-home” order to May 26, which resulted in the WIAA deciding to cancel spring athletics for the 2020 season.
The cancellation of the spring season was felt by many, but that doesn’t mean all hope has been lost for this year’s top senior softball players to take the field at some point this summer.
The Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association has posted rosters for its annual Senior All-Stars Games, a series of games usually held in mid-June at Woodside Sports Complex and Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
The rosters include 238 players, all members of the class of 2020, who had their final season of softball unexpectedly taken away from them.
The group would have been broken down into 12 teams — four in Division 1, four in Divisions 2 and 3, and four in Divisions 4 and 5 — for a series of 14 round-robin games using a jamboree format.
While it’s highly unlikely that the games will be allowed to take place as scheduled on Tuesday, June 18, the WFCA is planning on a senior showcase event on Monday-Tuesday, Aug. 3-4.
The area was well represented on the list of all-stars, as Beaver Dam senior Grace Madeiros and Randolph senior Brianna Prieve were just two of nearly 250 players that were selected. Both are planning on playing in the showcase event in August.
“I’m just so excited for that atmosphere that I get to play in one more time,” Madeiros said. “I really wasn’t planning on getting a last chance at all. I’m just really honored to be able to get that last chance to step onto the field, wearing a Beaver Dam jersey, and getting to play against other girls that I’ve known and grown up playing against.”
Prieve felt the same – excited to see all the talent especially one of her close friends in Portage senior Brianna Brandner who will be on the Division 2 and 3 roster.
“I’m very good friends with her and I’m very happy that I’ll get a chance to see her there and possibly compete with her,” Prieve said. “I know softball is her sport, and I felt so bad for her. I was so devastated over (softball season being cancelled), so I can only imagine how she felt over it, and they went to state (in 2018). I’m happy to be happy to be with all the girls.
“It’s going to be so competitive because everyone’s season was cancelled. Now everyone gets to go and play, and have fun.”
Other area players selected as all-stars include Horicon’s Allison Tillema, Karissaa Laabs, Jadin Justman and Payton Marvin, and Mayville’s Abby Van Beek, Delaney Vetter, Kyra Thoreson and Emily Karvala.
Madeiros, who was selected for the Division 1 roster, is especially excited to see Brandner because she will be Madeiros’ roommate when they go off to college next fall at Madison College, where they will also play on the softball team. DeForest’s Taylor Tschumper and Taylor VonBehren, who were selected to the Divison 1 roster, will also play softball at Madison College next season.
“It’s such an honor to be able to play with my future teammates at Madison College,” Madeiros said, and acknowledged she will be cherishing every memory made with everyone she meets.
“For some of the girls that will be up there, this will be their last game,” she said. “I think it’s really important everybody understand what we’ve all gone through. I think everybody is going to be on the more appreciative end. I think it’s going to make for a really cool atmosphere and a new atmosphere. I think it’s going to be awesome what we all get to do.”
Prieve, who is committed to play on the women’s basketball team at UW-Stout, will definitely be one to understand what the senior showcase represents of one final shot to play at the high school level. As a Rocket the last three seasons, she broke the school record for most career stolen bases with 70, breaking 2018 graduate Caitlyn Budzinski’s record of 44.
And coming in this spring, she was primed to break two more school records. Prieve was just 25 hits away from breaking 2019 graduate JoLea Woreck’s hit record of 98, and was 25 runs away from breaking the runs record of 94.
“Basketball is my go-to sport ,and my No. 1 sport, but softball always had that spot in my heart where I felt like, ‘Oh, I can do this too. I’m pretty good at this. I could always try this out,’” Prieve said. “I love softball, almost at times, just as much as I love basketball. It’s tough, because I already set one school record for stolen bases. I loved stealing bases. I loved seeing my name as top seven in the state at the top of the division. I loved seeing that. I had two more school records to break.
“Leaving that high and dry is tough.”
It’s just as painful for Madeiros, because she was also a member of Beaver Dam’s prep girls basketball team, which had its season end prematurely when the WIAA cancelled the girls state tournament back in March.
“It’s really hard, because I know all the seniors across the country feel the same way I do,” she said. “It really sucks, because you grow up and you see the senior days and the senior celebrations, and it’s something you look forward to. It’s that last, final goodbye. I feel like it was really hard for me when I heard it. I immediately got emotional right away because I’ve played with some of these girls my whole entire life.”
For all the seniors playing in it, it’s one final hurrah.
“That’s why I’m so honored that I got picked. It’s an awesome accomplishment,” Madeiros said. “I have worked so hard that it’s awesome to see it come back and reward me.”
Follow Mark McMullen on Twitter @mmcmull2 or contact him at 920-356-6754.
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