Two softball players, one baseball player and a track and field athlete, all 2013 graduates of Elk Mound High School, completed their freshman year of competition at their respective colleges this past spring.
Maddy Polden, a catcher for the University of Illinois-Aurora softball team started her season with a trip to Florida with the team for some warm weather games. She ended up playing in 18 games and starting 17 for the Spartans who finished the season with a 27-15 record. With the team playing a lot of double headers, she usually caught one of the games with a junior teammate playing the other. Maddy caught 109 innings, recorded 100 put outs and had a fielding percentage of .986 with just seven passed balls. Offensively, she had eight at bats with a pair of hits and one RBI. Playing catcher at the Division 2 college level is quite a challenge, according to Maddy.
“The pitchers at this level are really something,” she said. “They have a lot of different pitches they throw and if you are not ready for a screwball or a rise ball, you need to be able to block the plate and keep the ball in front of you. It takes a while to adjust to each pitcher but I have learned a lot and I improved as the season went on.”
After playing volleyball last fall for Riverland Community College in Albert Lea, Minnesota, Becca Kopp played softball for the team this spring. Kopp played in 40 games and batted .401 with 31 RBIs, scored 37 times and stole seven bases. She slammed 13 doubles which placed her 23rd in all of NJCAA Division 3 and she was eighth in assists with 79 as an infielder. The Blue Devils ended their season with a record of 24-17, losing twice to Rochester 6-5 and 7-6 in the 13A Regional tournament. Kopp was named to the All Minnesota Collegiate Athletic Conference Second team for the Southern Division and her coach Al Eckmann, a former University of Minnesota assistant coach, was named Coach of the Year for the MCAC.
Hunter Dicus played baseball for Century Community College out of White Bear Lake, Minnesota which was ranked number 1 in Division 3 NJCAA. The Wood Ducks finished 39-12 for the year and missed out on a second straight trip to the College World Series when they lost the Regional XII championship game. The team plays a fall and spring schedule as Dicus saw limited action, playing in six games while going 0 for 2 at the plate but scored three times. Listed as a first baseman on the roster, he had one put out in the field. Dicus is now playing summer ball for the Eau Claire Legion U19 team.
Emma Hayes is a member of the women’s track and field team for Division 3 UW-River Falls. As a distance runner, she seems to have found her niche running the 1500m race several times in the outdoor season. She placed 26th at the UW-RF Falcon Invite with a time of 5:38.25 April 12, dropped her time to 5:31.96 at the Phil Easton meet at UW-La Crosse April 17 for 41st place, then lowered her time again to 5:29.97 at the St. Mary’s Open in Winona, MN for 34th place April 26. She did not compete in the WIAC meet.