She never grows Wery

Cory Sparks, Editor in Chief

Courtesy of Sophie Wery
Wery prepares to throw the ball. Wery has caught three runners stealing, has a .995 fielding percentage and has 174 putouts on the season.

Putting the bat on the ball, hearing the metallic ping ring through the air and watching the ball clear the fence is an experience that UW Oshkosh freshman catcher Sophie Wery has had on multiple occasions this year as the Titans’ power hitter.

As the softball regular season winds down and UWO eyes a deep postseason run, nobody embodies endurance and strength more than starting catcher Wery, who leads the team in home runs.

While some freshmen endure a steep learning curve in the transition from high school to college baseball, Wery has been a key contributor in helping the UWO softball team maintain national ranking (No. 18) and achieve a 24-8 record.

Wery leads her team in home runs (five) and RBIs (39) while calling the shots from behind the plate on defense. Her home run and RBI totals place her in a tie for third and a tie for first respectively among all players in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC).

While this is UWO head coach Scott Beyer’s first year coaching Wery, he has known her for a few years through recruiting.

Beyer said he was immediately impressed by Wery’s playing ability and character. “My first impression of her when I first saw her is that she is a great teammate that has high energy with a lot of potential on the field,” Beyer said.

Wery played for the Seymour Thunder and helped the team win the Division II state title in 2019.

Beyer said Wery’s power comes from hours of strength training and working on her swing in practice. “She is a strong young lady that works hard in the weight room,”
he said. “When she is at practice, she works very hard on her swing mechanics and mindset to allow her to hit for power.”

While strength is essential in generating power, it should not be equated with tenseness. Wery said keeping her hands loose and trusting what she works on in practice helps her in making hard contact with the ball.

“I try to have loose hands on my bat to stay relaxed because
as soon as I tense up and have a tight grip on my bat, I lose a lot of power,” Wery said.

In terms of what separates Wery from other freshmen, Beyer said Wery stands out beyond the box score. He also commended Wery for being able to effectively converse with her teammates on the field.

“She has a natural confidence that some freshmen don’t have,” Beyer said. “As a catcher, she is a great communicator to our pitching staff and isn’t afraid to have a tough conversation when necessary.”

As Wery made the transition from winning a state title with Seymour to leading the nationally ranked Titans team at the plate, she said her biggest adjustment has been adjusting her mindset and accepting that bad games will happen.

“One aspect I have improved on a lot in transitioning from high school to college is my mindset,” she said. “Coming in this year, my coaches put an emphasis on approaching softball with the right mentality and staying positive throughout any challenge you come across.”

Wery said one reason the transition has been so seamless is the overall inclusivity of the team. She said her teammates have been friendly from the beginning and have helped the freshman become invested in all of the team’s goals for the season.

“We have a lot of freshmen that came in this year, and the upperclassmen welcomed us with open arms,” Wery said. “Our team has a lot of trust in one another, and the atmosphere is super inviting.”

Beyer said Wery bought into the team’s positive and determined mentality from day one, and he said she has supported each and every one of her teammates.

“She is a true team player,” he said. “Everything she does is in support of our whole team. She brings a lot of positive energy to the team and has everyone’s back.”

With Wery batting behind Hannah Ritter, Beyer said she has handled the pressure well. Ritter was the NCAA’s Division III Player of the Week from April 4-10 and the WIAC leader in batting average (.534), hits (55) and on base percentage (.583).

With Ritter consistently getting on base and sometimes forcing pitching changes, Wery sometimes has to go against a pitcher with a fresh arm coming out of
the bullpen.

“She hits behind one of the best hitters in the country and has to protect her in the lineup, and that is a lot for a freshman to deal with,” Beyer said. “I would say that is something that is always being worked on throughout the entire season.”

The WIAC tournament will go from May 6-8 and will be hosted by UW-La Crosse. The tournament will be double-elimination with the top five teams in the WIAC making it in.

UWO heads into the tournament winning 14 of its last 18, and the team’s star catcher said she is enjoying every bit of the journey.

“It has been fun to watch all the pieces fall into place,” she said. “Our team is close with one another on and off the field, [and we] have a ton of energy.”