Eureka College plans to name ball field in honor of Karen Sweitzer

Eureka College in Eureka plans to dedicate its on-campus softball facility for former longtime head coach Karen Sweitzer at a Sept. 15 ceremony. 

Sweitzer is the winningest female head coach in Eureka College athletics history and has been a member of the Eureka College faculty in physical education, health and kinesiology since 1990. She is a former Cobden High School standout athlete.

Sweitzer Field is scheduled to be dedicated on Saturday, Sept. 15, at 11:30 a.m., prior to the Red Devils’ home football game versus Finlandia.

Sweitzer was the head coach of the EC softball program from 1991 until 2008 and was the winner of 310 games, the most by a female head coach in the history of the institution. 

The Red Devils earned their first NCAA Division III Tournament bid in school history under Sweitzer’s guidance when EC went 21-15 in 2002 and received an at-large bid to the Bloomington, Ill., regional. 

She remains the only female head coach to take a Eureka College team to the national postseason.

“Karen Sweitzer is a major part of the fabric of women’s sports at Eureka College,” Eureka College interim director of athletics Bryan Moore said. 

“Her contributions to the college on the softball field and in the classroom have been unmatched. She is most deserving of this honor and we’re elated to dedicate our softball facility in her name.”

EC went to the NAIA District 20 playoffs twice (1992, 1994) and Sweitzer was voted NAIA District 20 Coach of the Year in 1994. 

Eureka also placed third in the NAIA Great Lakes sectional tournament in 1995, one season before the College made its transition to exclusive NCAA membership.

The Red Devils won 15 games or more in 11 of her 18 seasons, including a school record 30 wins in 1996 in which the Red Devils were ranked sixth in the Central Region of Division III.

She won her 300th game in a 1-0 victory over St. Mary-of-the-Woods on March 29, 2008. Including a three-year tenure as head coach at her alma mater MacMurray from 1986 through 1988, Sweitzer won 334 games as a collegiate softball head coach.

“We are thrilled to dedicate our softball field for Karen Sweitzer, a truly well-deserving, iconic coach who achieved an impressive litany of historic institutional firsts that raised the visibility of softball at EC,” Eureka College president Jamel Santa Cruze Wright said. 

“In addition to being an extraordinary coach and role model to countless students on the field, we acknowledge and celebrate Sweitzer for positively shaping our students in the classroom as a member of our top-notch faculty.”

Sixteen student-athletes who played softball for Sweitzer have been inducted into the Eureka College Hall of Fame, including the program’s all-time hits leader Allyson Carter Hattermann (1994-1997) and all-time Eureka strikeout leader Donita Williams Wightman (1989-1992). 

In addition to the wealth of individual accolades, Sweitzer’s 1996 and 2002 softball squads were also inducted into the Eureka College Hall of Fame and her Red Devils continue to hold single-season team records in triples, walks, stolen bases and earned run average.

(Editor’s note: this article originally appeared on the Eureka College website.)

The Gazette-Democrat

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