Q & A with UNO softball coach Jeanne Scarpello
March 11th, 2014
Omaha, NE – The University of Nebraska at Omaha softball team is 14-8 so far this season. The Mavericks have been on the road to begin the year and will be in Champaign, Ill. this weekend for yet another tournament. How is the team coming together? What players are stepping up? KVNO had a chance to sit down with head coach Jeanne Scarpello to discuss the team’s progression and what lies ahead for the Mavericks.[audio:https://kvnonews.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/SCARPELLO-0311-1.mp3]
KVNO: Coach Jeanne Scarpello is in her 15th season as Head Coach of the UNO maverick softball team. Thanks for joining us today Coach.
Jeanne Scarpello: Not a problem, thanks for having me.
KVNO: You earned your 600th victory earlier in the year, talk about your career here at UNO and what it means to serve as head coach.
Scarpello: It has been a long run here and I’ve worked with some great assistant coaches here. Cory Peterman has been with me a long time so he deserves a lot of those wins to of course. I’ve also had some great players along the way. You know what 600 wins means is it just shows the commitment and the loyalty that I’ve had to this programs but also a lot of our players had the same. The work ethic has always been strong. I always think of myself as an average coach – but when you have great players here it makes you look like you had a great career.
KVNO: Last week at the Colorado State Classic, you had a couple games that were cancelled due to inclement weather. You lost the first game you played against Southern Utah, but then finished it up with two wins. Go ahead and talk about that.
Scarpello: You know we didn’t come out strong. Our pitching performance wasn’t as sharp as we’ve seen it. And then we had some defensive miscues right away. It just wasn’t the start we wanted for the Tournament by any means. But we did turn the corner. We had two good performances along the way to help finish out that Tournament. I really think maybe that helped us turn the corner for the season. We haven’t peaked yet, we are maybe underperforming our potential here. But that is okay because it is early. I thought we put together a good performance against CSU – it was a no error ball game. Beating (CSU) 4-0 it felt really good. They have a great record and they’ve been beating some great teams. So we were happy with that win to finish it up.
KVNO: On paper your team is streaky, winning eight straight, then losing five straight. You lost four out of five games at the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic, how good was the competition there?
Scarpello: The competition was great. It was the toughest competition we’ve faced so far. We were in all of those games, but it came down to key hits and us maybe not coming through. We maybe had a little defensive blunder and they would capitalize on it. We talked about it we just have to play sharp against those teams. We went down there to get a little exposure – play with some of those big dogs and let them see that we are a program that can play with them. I know we earned that – even Notre Dame who was ranked 23rd at the time, even talked about ‘that was a great ball club we just played out there.’
KVNO: Generally speaking how is your team coming together?
Scarpello: I think we have some kids that are really hard on themselves, which is great thing but when they do that they put extra pressure on themselves. So we are trying to get that off of them just a little bit. Trying to let them realize that hitters are going to make mistakes – we have a lot of people who want to be doing even more. We’ve hit the ball very well this year, this a good hitting team.
KVNO: Allie Mathewson stands out with a .403 average but what about Amber Lutmer?
Scarpello: What a great season she is having as a senior. She has been very good mentally at the plate. She might not have a great at-bat, but she is able to come back. She has the mentality we want – there is no hesitation, if you are going to take a cut, swing hard. She should be well feared right now, because not only are her HR’s there, but so is her average. As a senior she has worked her butt off. You talk about getting 600 wins. You get 600 wins because of players like her .
KVNO: Speaking of production talk about the work you are getting from Dana Elsasser on the mound.
Scarpello: Oh, yea there is another one. What a treat for us as coaches to work with a player like that. She came in as a freshman and you knew she was something different just because of her work ethic. The pitcher she is, is based on the person she is inside. She really should be considered one of the top 10 or 20 pitchers in the country right now. She wants the ball as much as she can. It’s fun being a part of the program and watching her grow through it.
KVNO: Speaking of ACE pitchers in the Summit League – how does Elsasser compare to Miranda Kramer at Fort Wayne?
Scarpello: They are just two different pitchers, Miranda Kramer is going to throw some more rise-ball, junk ball stuff, she is not going to overpower you, but she is effective. Dana, she is going to go after you with her pitches. She has great movement with the down pitch and we get a lot of ground-balls from her. But she is also getting a lot of strikeouts this year too. Dana goes at you and she doesn’t throw a lot of pitches. They are just two different pitchers, but I’d take Dana every time.
KVNO: What about the competition you will face during this weekend’s Fighting Illini Classic?
Scarpello: I think it’s going to be good. Illinois is having a good year, we like playing the Big Ten. Western Michigan there are up and down, but they’ve had a decent schedule. Saint Louis we had a good run against them last year beating them down at Tennessee State, they have some good players. I think it’s a good mix for us. We believe we will walk out of there with some wins if we play the way we should.
KVNO: Final question coach, when you face Saint Louis Saturday – Lindsay Friedman bats .383, has a .787 SLG%, but what stands out to me is she is 11-of-12 on stolen base attempts. How will Dana and your pitching staff deal with that?
Scarpello: You know Dana isn’t going to change what she does. She is still going to go at her; we are not going to give any free passes. The good thing too is for someone who steals a lot of bases, Campbell Ditto has thrown out a couple of the fastest runners already, like with Sammy Marshal at Western Illinois. So when Dana pitches 65 mph and Ditto has about a 67 mph arm down to second, it makes it hard to steal. So there haven’t been many people who attempt it.
KVNO: Coach Scarpello thanks for joining us, and good luck this weekend.
Scarpello: Thank you, Bye.
Fighting Illini Classic Notes and Observations:
- WMU, who hails from the MAC, has a 7-16 overall record this year. The Broncos have lost 8 straight since a 15-1 win over Quinnipiac March 1.
- Melissa Palmer is hitting .373 for the Broncos
- WMU only hits .257 as a team, compared to opponents’ batting .322
- Mackenzie Peter and Lindsay Friedman lead the way for the Billikens both batting .383.
- Friedman has a .787 SLG% and .525 OB% – She has also stolen 11 bases in 12 attempts.
- Pitcher Brianna Lore is allowing just a .234 batting average to opposing hitters.
- Illinois lost three straight at the Florida Atlantic Tournament in Boca Raton before beating Hofstra last Sunday 2-0. The Illini topped Creighton 9-1 at the UTA Hilton Invitational tournament earlier in the year in Arlington, Tex.
- The Illini are 12-6 overall – After starting 8-0 they have went 4-5 over the past 9 games.
- Alex Booker is fourth in the Big Ten conference in BA – .422
- Pitcher Brandi Needham is 7-1 in 12 appearances. She has 1.29 ERA. She has only 35 strikeouts, but she has also allowed a meager 8 walks this year.
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