The UW-La Crosse softball team is gearing up to play in the NCAA Division III Super Regional for the first time in program history, but two of its top players earned regional recognition on Wednesday.

Kendra Leis mug


Caitlyn Hughes mug


Freshman first baseman and Holmen High School graduate Kendra Leis was named to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Great Lakes Region second team, and senior starting pitcher Caitlyn Hughes was named to the third team. It was the first all-region honor for both players.

Leis has made an immediate impact for the Eagles with her powerful bat, something she showed in her dominant career with the Vikings that included a Tribune softball player of the year award. Leis led the WIAC in hits (59), doubles (16), and slugging percentage (.671). She was second in homers for the Eagles with seven, and had 18 multiple-hit and 10 multiple-RBI games, both team highs.

Leis was also a key reserve on the UW-L women’s basketball team that had its best season in 30 years.

Hughes posted a career-high 16 wins, which led the conference. She has 94 strikeouts in 117⅓ innings, and opponents have hit .252 off her this season. She earned three wins at the D-III Regional tournament in Pella, Iowa, including the win in the first game Sunday that forced a win-or-go-home game that evening.

UW-L (29-18) will face No. 3 St. Thomas (41-5) in a best-of-three series this weekend, with Game 1 slated for 4 p.m. Friday. Game 2 is at 1 p.m. Saturday, and Game 3 will start after that if it’s needed.

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Colten Bartholomew is a reporter and columnist for River Valley Media Group. Colten is the college sports coordinator for the La Crosse Tribune.

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