Seniors Kim Wedeking and Taylor Smola will not only say goodbye to playing softball after this season but they will also say goodbye to their teammates.
With how much time the team spends together, Wedeking says, they have become a family.
“Freshman year you think about it just as softball, you don’t realize how close you are going to get with all your teammates. Now [by senior year] you become a family and it is more important about the team and not just yourself,” Wedeking said.
Smola says the friendships she has with her teammates are relationships unlike any other she has on campus. She says this has to deal with the time they spend together on and off the field.
Some activities Smola says she has loved doing with her teammates are their Christmas parties, their half-price appetizers dinner at Applebee’s before the season starts and going to Florida during Winter Break for tournaments.
“That’s where we get to know each other and where we build a lot of our chemistry and just having those relationships of having these people as friends after my career here at Wartburg is done [is nice],” Smola said.
Head Softball Coach Jamie Mueller says Wedeking and Smola are key players and they definitely help the overall team atmosphere.
Mueller says the team will miss both of them when they are done for the season.
“They are both even-kieled so you know when we have great things going or we have a terrible inning, those two do a great job of keeping their composure and it helps the rest of the team in that way as well,” Mueller said.
Wedeking and Smola have both improved, Mueller said, over their time in the Wartburg Softball program.
Mueller said Smola is currently working in a position she hasn’t played a lot since high school so she has seen a steady improvement from her.
Wedeking has been working with the pitching coach and Muller said she has seen improvement in her pitching from last fall to this spring.
“I think that I have improved a lot just based on like getting older, changing my mindset, just having more confidence. Especially on the mound, I have a lot more confidence as I have gotten older,” Wedeking said.
From these improvements Wedeking and Smola have also grown into the “mom” role on the team. Wedeking jokes that her nickname on the team right now is “mama Kim.”
Wedeking says softball will always be a part of her life and after college she would like to coach for the rest of her life.
Right now, both of the seniors are focusing on finishing this softball season strong. Smola has high hopes for this season because she says the coaches and players on the team are all striving to have a successful season.