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A softball sensation: Coleman going to state for first time in program history

The Cougars are just the third girls team in Coleman history to qualify for a WIAA state tournament; the school's volleyball program previously did so in 1984 and 1996.
Posted at 9:23 PM, Jun 03, 2024

COLEMAN, Wis. (NBC 26) — A high school known for its wrestling prowess has turned into a softball sensation.

With a 4-2 win over Random Lake in the WIAA sectional final round last week, Coleman softball punched its ticket to the WIAA state tournament for the first time in program history.

  • It will be Coleman's first appearance at the WIAA state softball tournament.
  • This is only the third time a Coleman girls team has qualified for state in any sport, according to the team's head coach.
  • The Cougars previously made it to the state girls volleyball tournament in 1984 and 1996.
  • Coleman has won state championships in several boys sports - most notably wrestling, where the Cougars have won 11 team state titles.
  • The Cougars softball team will begin tournament play on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. in the WIAA Division 4 state semifinals when they take on top-seeded Fall Creek.

"It's crazy because our boys always make it. And I was like, 'I want a girls team to make it,'" junior outfielder Annabelle Markiewicz said. "We work so hard too. It just never showed... but now it's like, 'wow, we worked so hard and now we made it.'"

Head coach Jean LeVash is one of the few who's been there before; she coached the Cougars to the state volleyball tournament in 1996.

"It's been exciting," LeVash said. "It's been a great ride."

"I've been able to coach both of them so it's been pretty special," she added. "And it's nice to see that we've been able to grow the sport of softball here."

"Softball I think always had a special place in her heart," Markiewicz said of her head coach. "After so many years of getting so far and falling short... now it's finally happening."

LeVash is the leader, but she said pitcher Courtney DenRuyter has been the driving force.

"She's taken it upon herself on her shoulders to just kind of carry the team if she can," LeVash said of her ace.

DenRuyter, the program's all-time leader in strikeouts, posted a 1.70 ERA in 23 appearances this season, according to WisSports.net. So far this season she has a 20-2 record, making her responsible for every one of the Cougars victories.

"I'm very confident in myself," DenRuyter said. "I don't want (the season) to end with a loss. So we might as well just go to state and win. And then everyone kind of just followed with and they were like, 'well yeah let's go to state.'"

DenRuyter has helped inspire the team with confidence, but the job isn't finished yet.

Coleman is two victories away from becoming the school's first girls team to win a WIAA state championship.

"We're going there and that's really cool because only four teams get to go," DenRuyter said. "Winning really isn't everything. But we're going to go there and play our hardest."

"I just really hope that we can - and I know we can - pull through these games and just play as a team and that we can just do it," Markiewicz said.

The Cougars are the No. 4 seed in WIAA Division 4. They play top-seeded Fall Creek in the state semifinals on Thursday; first pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.

The tournament is played at the Goodman Softball Complex on the campus of UW-Madison.

Kaukauna, Waupun, Mishicot, Laconia and Oakfield also qualified for state softball.