Daily Egyptian

Seniors pitch different game plans for future

By Brent Meske, @brentmeskeDE

Four years, a combined 3,000-plus batters faced, 350-plus strikeouts, 200-plus appearances and nearly 800 innings pitched. This is the legacy Saluki senior pitchers Katie Bertelsen and Alyssa Wunderlich will leave behind after graduation.

When their softball careers fade away, the game will live on with one of them, while the other will move on to a different path.

Bertelsen, a leisure sports and recreation major, will continue with softball. She said becoming a collegiate softball coach is the goal, but she would be happy coaching at any level. She will come back to SIU in the fall as part of her internship to help coach Kerri Blaylock, who she called a mom.

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“I’ll be doing it for the rest of my life,” she said. “It’s something I’ll always want to do and keep going with it.”

Stepping off the field for the final time will open new opportunities for Bertelsen, but she said it will not be easy to do.

“It’s going to suck,” she said. “I am looking forward to doing something else, but I sure am going to miss it.”

To date, Bertelsen is top-10 all-time at SIU for innings pitched, appearances, wins and complete games.

Wunderlich, who will start graduate school at Northern Illinois University in the summer studying speech language pathology, said she would like to work in a medical setting with children and babies. She said junior short stop Kelsey Gonzalez will be among the hardest goodbyes to say.

“We go way back to when we were 10 years old,” she said. “It will be weird. I’m glad we got to experience high school and college ball together.”

Wunderlich and Gonzalez both attended Naperville Central High School, but parting ways at the end of this season will not last long. Wunderlich said their families, who live five minutes from each other, will keep in touch.

She said she has not thought about her final game at SIU.

“I don’t think there is any way to prepare for it,” she said. “I’ve been playing softball my whole life. It will definitely be a weird feeling but I know you have to move on at some point.”

With the absence of Bertelsen and Wunderlich next season, freshman Savanna Dover and sophomore Shaye Harre have the opportunity to develop into the team’s top pitchers.

Blaylock said SIU also has two pitching recruits coming next season.

Assistant coach Buddy Foster said Bertelsen and Wunderlich have taught the younger pitchers phenomenal work ethic.

“They come to work every day,” he said. “They have set a tone for the two younger ones with how to approach practice every day.”

Foster said Harre has come on strong after a bad start to the year and Dover is experiencing the highs and the lows of being a freshman pitcher.

Bertelsen said pitchers having separate workouts has brought the two closer. For this year, Bertelsen and Wunderlich said the goal is to win the Missouri Valley Conference championship, and they have four games remaining before the tournament begins May 7.

Brent Meske can be reached at [email protected] or at 536-3311 ext. 269. 

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