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June 1, 2004

2009 Season - 2004 Softball Review

Vikings win first ever college conference of Illinois & Wisconsin Championship and advance to NCAA playoffs in 36-9 season; 10 school records set with Kris Kistler winning Coach of the year in the CCIW; seven players earn All-Conference honors and six win All-Regional recognition

A single swing of the bat by one freshman and a superb pitching outing by another in the same game provided the catalyst to the most successful season (victory-wise) in Augustana softball history in 2004.

The scenario was this.

The Vikings were squared off with defending College Conference of Illinois & Wisconsin champion and 2003 NCAA third place finisher Illinois Wesleyan in a doubleheader on April 7 at Augustana’s Carver Field. Heading into the day Kris Kistler’s team was an impressive 18-4 and looked to be on the verge of another successful season. After all, the Vikings had compiled a mark of 106-64-2 over the previous four years. However, they had not been able to reach the top of the CCIW, nor had they made it to the NCAA Division III playoffs.

Illinois Wesleyan came into the doubleheader with a 16-3 record and in the first game the Titans cuffed Augustana ace Jilian Widick (Normal West HS, Normal, IL) around to the tune of 11 hits and four walks en route to a 4-0 victory. The Vikings only managed three hits, all singles, off Wesleyan’s Kelly Murray. With one conference loss already in the books, Augustana could ill-afford to start the league season with an 0-2 record, especially with both games at home.

Enter freshmen Samantha Knox (United Township HS, East Moline, IL) and Alissa Shaner (Moline HS, Moline, IL) into the picture. Knox, the third baseman, changed the whole mood in the Viking dugout with a single swing of the bat in the second inning. With the game scoreless, Knox led off the second inning against Titan starter Ashley Patten and smashed a mammoth home run to left field. Augustana tallied one more run in the inning and Shaner went out and absolutely baffled the Illinois Wesleyan hitters for the rest of the game. She allowed just four hits in a 7-1 Viking victory.

That one game, with Knox’s single swing of the bat and Shaner’s gutsy pitching, seemed to set the tone as Augustana finished the 2004 season with a 36-9 overall record. The Vikings went 11-3 in the CCIW, losing a 1-0 at Carthage and 6-3 against North Central in the final league game. They tied Illinois Wesleyan for the league title, winning the first CCIW championship in school history. By virtue of run differential over the Titans, Augustana was awarded the host spot for the conference tournament that was held at Carver Field on April 30 and May 1.

Over a two day span the Vikings were superb in winning all three games. They beat Millikin 1-0 in the first round behind a dominating pitching performance from Widick. Rain forced the postponement of the second round games on Friday and Saturday morning Augustana spotted Illinois Wesleyan a 3-0 lead in the first inning. The Vikings quickly answered with four runs in the bottom of the first and Shaner once again gave the Titans fits en route to a 9-3 win. That put Augustana in the championship game where the opponent was North Central and Widick tossed a four hitter as the Vikings won 7-1 to clinch the NCAA Division III playoff berth.

Augustana made the trip to Alma, Michigan for the NCAA Division III Great Lakes Regional and in the first game Widick hooked up in a dandy pitching duel with Hannah Roberts of the University of Chicago. Roberts and Widick had just been named as the two pitchers on the first team of the all-region squad and neither gave the other team much to work with. Finally, in the top of the 11th inning Chicago squeaked across an unearned run against Widick and Roberts made it stand up for a 1-0, 11 inning victory. The Vikings won two games in the loser’s bracket, 1-0 over Defiance in nine innings and 5-1 against Lake Forest. That set up a game with Alma for the right to meet Chicago in the championship game. Augustana fell 3-1 in eight innings, putting an end to a season that arguably could be called the best in school history.

Head coach Kris Kistler finished her fifth season at the Vikings helm and she has compiled a record of 142-73 for a winning percentage of .660. She was named the “Coach of the Year” in the CCIW for the second time in the last five years. Her team finished the season ranked 15th in the final NCAA Division III poll that was conducted by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. Seven Augustana players were named to the all-conference team with five first team selections and two second team picks. Pitcher Widick, catcher Leann Barber (Moline HS, Moline, IL), shortstop Heidi Hallstrom (Moline HS, Moline, IL), third baseman Knox and centerfielder Kristen Cerone (Wheaton North HS, Wheaton, IL) were all named to the first team. Shaner and Erin Daniels (Dwight HS, Dwight, IL) were second team selections.

Hallstrom is a first team pick for the third straight year while Barber is a first teamer for the second consecutive season, although last year Barber made it as a first baseman. Cerone is a two time first team selection and Widick moves up from her second team slot of a year ago.

When the all-region team was announced, Widick was a first team pick while Daniels, Knox, Hallstrom and Cerone were second team selections and Barber was a third teamer.

Ten school records fell during the season including best winning percentage (.800) and most wins (36). Team records fell for most hits (354), home runs (2004) and earned run average (0.99). Daniels set a pair of records with 43 runs scored and 151 at-bats. Knox tied the school record for runs-batted-in with 31 and Widick broke the strikeout record with 183. Hallstrom, with one year still left, broke career mark for RBI with 83.

Widick was the lynchpin to the Vikings success, compiling a 20-4 record with a 0.85 earned run average with 183 strikeouts and just 33 base-on-balls in 164 innings of work. She finished the year ranked in the top 30 in three separate categories in the final NCAA Division III national statistics. She was tied for 19th in victories with 20, 28th in strikeouts per seven innings at 7.8 and 30th in earned run average at 0.85. Shaner was 29th in the nation in ERA with a mark of 0.81 and she proved to be a tremendous second starter to Widick. While Widick is a power pitcher, as her strikeout numbers signify, Shaner tantalized batters with her variety of junk pitches and tenacity. Shaner was 15-4 with a 0.81 ERA in 121 1/3 innings with 70 strikeouts and just 23 base-on-balls.

While the pitching staff limited opponents to a .182 batting average the Vikings offense batted .301 and averaged 4.6 runs per game. Hallstrom led the team in batting with a .406 average and the first two batters in the lineup – Daniels and Cerone – combined for 94 hits, 71 runs scored and 47 stolen bases. Hallstrom, Knox, Barber and freshman rightfielder Erin Canopy (Olympia HS, Hopedale, IL) provided plenty of run production with 93 RBI between the four of them.

2004 College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin Softball Tournament

Friday, April 30

Game #1 – Illinois Wesleyan 2, North Central 1

Game #2 – Augustana 1, Millikin 0

Saturday, May 1

Game #3 – North Central 1, Millikin 0 (Millikin eliminated)

Game #4 – Augustana 9, Illinois Wesleyan 3

Game #5 – North Central 7, Illinois Wesleyan 5 (Illinois Wesleyan eliminated)

Game #6 – Augustana 7, North Central 1 (Augustana wins tournament and NCAA tournament berth)

TeamRegular Season PointsTournament PointsFinal Points
Augustana11 (11-3)516
North Central10 (10-4)212
Illinois Wesleyan11 (11-3)112
Millikin9 (9-5)09
Carthage8 (8-6)08
Elmhurst5 (5-9)55
North Park1 (1-13)11
Wheaton1 (1-13)11

2004 CCIW Final Standings

 CCIW  Overall  
Illinois Wesleyan113.7863110.756
North Central104.7142815.651
North Park113.0711127.289


 2004 Augustana Softball Superlatives

Most Valuable Player – Jilian Widick

Best Offensive Player – Erin Daniels

Best Defensive Player – Tara Gimmler

Most Improved Player – Kim Rymer

Viking Award– Annie Bandeko

NCAA Division III Team Ranking – 15th

CCIW Coach of the year– Kris Kistler

CCIW All-Conference – (1st team) Jilian Widick, pitcher…Leann Barber, catcher…Heidi Hallstrom, shortstop…Samantha Knox, third base…Kristen Cerone, center field…(2nd team) Alissa Shaner, pitcher…Erin Daniels, second base.

NCAA All-Great Lakes Region– (1st team) Jilian Widick, pitcher…(2nd team) Erin Daniels, second base…Samantha Knox, third base…Heidi Hallstrom, shortstop…Kristen Cerone, center field…(3rd team) Leann Barber, at-large.

School record for hits by a team in single season – 354

School record for home runs by a team in single season– 15

School record for lowest team earned run average in single season – 0.99

School record for highest win percentage by team - .800 (36-9)

School record for team victories in single season- 36

School record for career rbi – 83, Heidi Hallstrom (2002-04)

School record for single season runs scored – 43, Erin Daniels

School record for single season rbi – 31, Samantha Knox

School record for single season at-bats– 151, Erin Daniels

NCAA Division III National Tournament – 3rd place in Great Lakes Regional