The Buccaneers made their varsity debut in softball on April 7, 1979, against Lakeland College in Beloit, under head coach Wendy Miller.
The first game was an 11-0 loss to the Muskies, with the Bucs managing just three hits – by Mary Sheahan, Gay Fredricks, and Nancy Habetler. The second game of the program’s history was much better, with Beloit taking a 12-7 win over Maranatha. Trinkie Heller and Mary Zwayer each had three hits in the game, with Heller hitting the first-ever home run in Beloit history in her last at -bat.
That win was the only one in that inaugural varsity season (to five losses) but a new varsity program for women was off and running at Beloit College.
Miller was the head coach for the first five seasons before Anita Palmer had a one-season stint in 1985. Pam Samuelson took over in 1986, the first of her seven seasons, and started pointing the team in the right direction. Her last five seasons produced double-figure win totals with the first 20-win season coming in her final year, 1992.
After Samuelson Ron Splan, who was an assistant on the coaching staff, took over the program’s head job and held it for 11 of the next 13 seasons. In 1996 Splan’s squad won the only Midwest Conference Championship in the program’s history.
Though Heller and Habetler were standouts for the softball squad, they made their marks at Beloit on the basketball court. Lori Sadewater (1987-90), Nicki Voie (1990-92) and Lisa Joki (1989-92) were three of the program’s first true softball stars.
Sadewater threw the first no-hitter in the history of the program on April 16, 1988, when she silenced Maranatha. She still ranks third with 33 career wins.
Voie was also a prominent figure on the mound, tying Sadewater with 33 career wins of her own in just three seasons, including recording 12 of the team’s 16 wins in 1991.
Joki helped lead the team to 66 wins during her four seasons and is still prominent in the Buccaneer Softball Record Book, ranking first in career walks, second in RBI, third in both runs scored and doubles and fifth in hits.
As the Buccaneers play the 34th season in the history of the program it’s always important to have an appreciation for where it all began.
UP AHEAD IN BUCCANEER ATHLETICS
Go to www.beloit.edu/bucs to get the entire schedule and catch up on last week’s results.