Ex-McKendree pitcher goes to Althoff

News-DemocratJune 11, 2013 

— BethAnn Swartz will bring a pitcher's perspective to coaching the Althoff Crusaders.

Swartz, a former McKendree University hurler, has been hired as the varsity softball coach for the Crusaders.

"I think I see the game a little differently than a lot of other coaches might,'' said, Swartz, 22, who graduated from McKendree in May. "I think the game starts with the pitcher, and the pitchers at Althoff are going to work really hard this fall to get ready for this spring. I'm really excited about next season. I think it'll be fun.''

Swartz replaces Mike Dori, who stepped down to become the Crusaders' athletic director.

Dori also had to give up his position as an assistant coach for the football team to fill the athletic director's job, which was open due to the retirement of Al Foppe.

"It was something I wanted,'' Dori said. "I guess making that decision wasn't too, too hard. I am going to miss coaching the games, but I'm not going to miss practice so much. The fun stuff I'll miss.''

Swartz said having Dori around should help ease the transition to a new coach.

"What's really nice is Mike Dori is going to be the A.D. now, and he's going to be a big help mentoring me in a sense,'' Swartz said.

Swartz is a native of the Champaign-Urbana area, and she played for Urbana High School.

Swartz played two years at Illinois Central College before transferring to McKendree. She had a 12-7 record with a 2.66 ERA in helping the Crusaders to a Top 12 finish in the NJCAA in 2009.

Swartz had a 9-11 with 2.97 ERA as a junior for the Bearcats. She had a 4-10 record with a 3.40 ERA as a senior for the Bearcats.

"She was a pitcher for me, and pitchers kind of have that sense of a game,'' McKendree coach Evelyn Bean said. "They put in the extra work and the extra time. I know she wanted to stay in this area and she wanted to find a coaching job, so I think she'll do a good job.''

Swartz joins two of Bean's former players, O'Fallon's Kate Walsh and Wesclin's Cassi Brown, in the metro-east head coaching ranks.

"It's kind of fun to see kids go out into the coaching world and be successful,'' Bean said. "You think you had a little piece of that success you are celebrating.''

Swartz did her student teaching at Central High School in Breese. She also served as a volunteer assistant coach to first-year Cougars coach Robbie Howard.

"I've always wanted to coach softball,'' Swartz said. "I've played almost my entire life, so after my senior year at McKendree when I realized that I was done playing, I wanted to coach. I'm not ready to give up softball. I want to be around it as much as I still can.''

Swartz said her coaching style is similar to Howard's.

"He did things that I would have done also,'' Swartz said. "I like to be aggressive on the bases. I know one thing we need to work on at Althoff is getting that speed so we can be aggressive.''

Swartz, who will be teaching math at Althoff, takes over a squad that was young and took some lumps this past season. They'll lose only three senior starters -- shortstop Ashley Gagen, second baseman Bridget Cook and right fielder Shannon Wuller to graduation.

All four players -- freshmen Tori Lonsdale and Lindsey Harris and juniors Kenzie Weilbacher and Katie Donahoo -- who saw time on the mound this season for the Crusaders will be returning.

"I do like that we are young,'' Swartz said. "I feel like it'll give me an opportunity to build the program.''

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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