By Hub City Times staff
MENOMONIE – To say this year’s UW-Platteville softball team is streaky would be an understatement. The Pioneers, led by former Marshfield High School and Purdue University softball standout Andie Varsho, were 16-14 through April 22.
The Chili native is in her second year as the Pioneer’s head coach, and knows she has a young team that’s struggling to find its identity.
“Year one was rough – a lot of changes, a lot of turnover. They are young,” Varsho said. “It’s shown by our schedule. We’ve lost nine one-run games, and ideally you’d like to close those games out, but our youth has shown in the seventh inning for sure for us. And, that’s just coming from high school to college, and really understanding you have to have confidence in your skills in the seventh inning, and if you’re questioning it, that’s where you kind of lose it, and I want to preach and preach to these girls that confidence wins you games and makes you a great hitter, great pitcher, great defensive player, and right now, we have confidence sometimes but not confidence all the time.”
Last season, the Pioneers made huge strides as Varsho lead them to 11 wins. She not only almost tripled their number in the wins column, but under Andie’s leadership the Pioneers garnered four members receiving Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) honors. This year’s version of the Pioneers has already surpassed last season’s win total, but the team is up-and-down. They started out 3-0, and then lost six of their next seven games. Varsho’s squad followed that up by winning nine of its next 12, but that was followed by the Pioneers losing five of their next eight games.
Andie says that first year was spent changing the culture, and finding out which players wanted to be there.
“I was very demanding, very competitive. I wanted them to work hard and have a good attitude throughout the season,” she said. “I ended up losing a lot of girls, but I knew I was going to recruit and get some great girls coming in. I recruited 13 girls, and right now seven of them are starting, and six of them are freshmen. It’s a great fresh start to a new era.
“We ultimately needed more talent to compete in the WIAC. Our conference record right now isn’t exactly where we want to be. But, we can compete with any single team in this conference, and if the one-run losses haven’t shown you by now, we’re right there.”
Varsho played collegiately at Purdue University and while she admits Division III is a lot different, she says it’s only different in certain aspects.
“The game stays the same. Honestly, the Division III skill level is comparable to where I played. It’s just a pitcher missing one more pitch, or a hitter not having three tools and only having two tools. So it’s different, but you also gotta make it the same, because if you’re going to build this program you gotta make sure that you instill qualities of a Division I program, because then you’re going to get those recruits that are going to be the game-changers.”
Andie Varsho knows what it’s like to be a game-changer. Her name appears frequently in the Purdue softball record book. She batted over .400 in three of her four years, including a .416 average as a senior. She holds the school record for longest hitting streak at 22 games. She ranks among the top five in nine offensive categories and is the career leader in base hits. In addition, she was named First Team All Big Ten her junior and senior seasons and was also a First Team Academic All American during her senior season.
After her days at Purdue were over, Andie went on to play professional softball for the Pennsylvania Rebellion in 2014, before becoming a graduate assistant in the compliance department for one season at Auburn University. Varsho followed that with one season as a volunteer assistant for the Wisconsin Badgers.
At Marshfield High School, Andie was a four-time first team all-state selection, earning the honors between her freshman and senior seasons. She led the Wisconsin Valley Conference in batting average and on-base percentage all four years, while earning all-conference accolades each season, including “Player of the Year” as a junior.
Andie was a three-sport standout at Marshfield High School. She earned an all-state selection and was a three-time first team all-conference tennis player, as well as a first team all-conference basketball selection as a senior – all while leading both teams to state competition in back-to-back years. Varsho received the Pat Richter award for best female three-sport athlete in the state of Wisconsin.