Brittany Gardner collects three strikeouts in the win
Brittany Gardner breaks Loyola's all-time career innings pitched record with win
Lauren Moore hits her fifth home run of the season in the win
Olivia Bill rips her first career grand slam in the win
Balanced attack leads Loyola past the Bulldogs at Cacciatore Stadium
The three seasons with Missy Beseres at the helm of the Loyola University Chicago softball program have resulted in some of the best years in school history. In those three years, the Golden Valley, Minn., native has totaled 80 victories, the third-highest total in Loyola history, and her .541 career winning percentage ranks second only to Jamie Gillies' .552. Beseres has steered the Ramblers to a pair of Horizon League regular-season titles, and the team has never finished lower than second-place under her watchful eye.
In addition to racking up a 47-20 (.701) record in Horizon League play in three seasons as head coach, Beseres, who also spent four years as a Rambler assistant coach, has guided her squad to eight wins over BCS conference opponents, with five of those victories coming versus Big Ten Conference foes. A former standout pitcher at Penn State, Beseres has produced 14 All-Horizon League honorees, two National Fastpitch Coaches Association Second Team All-Great Lakes Region selections, a Horizon League Pitcher of the Year, the program's first-ever National Professional Fastpitch player, and two Capital One Academic All-District V picks, in her three seasons as head coach at Loyola.
Beseres kept a team that was picked to win the Horizon League title focused all season long in 2013 and guided it its sixth regular-season conference title in the last 13 years. Along the way, Loyola equaled the single-season school record with 16 conference wins and posted 28 wins overall, the most since 2009. Loyola's 28-19 overall ledger gave it back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2003-04.
Four Ramblers picked up All-Horizon League recognition in 2013, with Brooke Andresen, Brittany Gardner, and Lauren Moore claiming first team status. Arguably the best hitter ever to don a Loyola uniform, Andresen finished her career as the school's all-time leader in at-bats (637), hits (215), and runs (116), and she is the only player in program history to be a four-time, first team all-conference pick. Meanwhile, Moore had a breakthrough season and in addition to setting a Loyola single-season record with 13 home runs, also garnered NFCA Second Team All-Great Lakes Region honors. Moore will enter the 2014 campaign needing only five RBI to equal Loyola's all-time record (93).
One of Beseres' prized pupils, Gardner became the first pitcher in Loyola history to earn First Team All-Horizon League status in each of her first three seasons, and despite being only a junior the lefthander set the school's career record for strikeouts, and moved within three wins of that all-time mark as well. Loyola collected three more wins over BCS conference teams in 2013 to run the program's total to eight under Beseres, and the team also established single-season marks for home runs (44) and RBI (174).
Success wasn't limited to the field in 2013. A believer in developing well-rounded individuals, Beseres saw her team earn a Horizon League Community Outreach Award for its outstanding community service work. As a team, the Ramblers posted a 3.45 grade-point average in 2012-13, and Andresen was named Capital One First Team Academic All-District V, while also being one of 30 national candidates for the Senior CLASS Award. In each of the last two years, the Loyola softball program has been represented on Loyola's prestigious Maroon and Gold Society, which recognizes 25 of the top seniors in the entire University for their leadership and academic and extracurricular superiority.
The 2012 campaign featured numerous highlights as Beseres guided a young squad to a second-place finish in the Horizon League standings and to the second-highest number of conference wins (15) in program history. For the first time since 2004, the Ramblers reached the title game of the Horizon League Championship and after starting the season 4-12 against some stiff competition, Loyola closed out the year by winning 22 of its final 33 contests.
Gardner built on an impressive freshman season to claim 2012 Horizon League Pitcher of the Year accolades to become only the fourth Rambler ever to earn such an honor. In addition, the lefthander became the fifth player in program history, and only the second pitcher, to collect NFCA All-Great Lakes Region honors after posting school records with 205 strikeouts and 10 shutouts and her 18 wins also ranked as the second-highest total in Loyola annals.
In her first season as head coach at Loyola in 2011, Beseres accomplished more than nearly any other first-year coach in school history, sculpting a young but talented Loyola squad into a 26-win outfit and she also became the first coach in school annals to earn Horizon League Coach of the Year honors in her first season at the helm of the Rambler program. In 2011, Beseres turned a team that was picked to finish sixth in the Horizon League Preseason Poll into the conference's regular-season champion.
The first Loyola coach ever to earn Horizon League Coach of the Year recognition in her first season on the job, Beseres guided the Ramblers to a school-record-tying 16 Horizon League wins in 2011 as the team claimed the regular-season title for the fifth time in 11 seasons. Beseres steered Loyola to victories over Big Ten rivals Purdue and Wisconsin and also saw Jacqueline Grim become the program's first-ever NFCA National Player of the Week selection.
Beseres mentored five players to All-Horizon League status in her first season as a head coach and two of her freshman pitchers, Gardner and Keali Engelkens, flourished under her watchful eye. Gardner became the first Loyola softball player since 1995 to earn League Newcomer of the Year recognition, and also became the first true freshman pitcher to earn First Team All-Horizon League accolades since 2007. Gardner tossed 31.0 consecutive scoreless innings early in the season and she also tied a Loyola single-season record for wins by a freshman with 14.
Engelkens blossomed as the season moved along and the righthander wound up leading the League with a 0.90 ERA in conference play. Three freshmen earned First or Second Team All-Horizon League honors to mark the first time in school history that three freshmen have been tabbed all-conference.
Beseres' 26 wins in 2011 rank as the second-most ever by a first-year Loyola coach and Andresen became the first Rambler since Allison Scanlin in 2004 and 2005 to earn First Team All-Horizon League accolades in back-to-back years.
In addition to success on the field in 2011, the Ramblers also thrived in the classroom under Beseres' watch as five individuals were named NFCA Scholar-Athletes for having grade-point averages of 3.50 or higher.
Since joining the Loyola staff as an assistant coach seven seasons ago, Beseres has helped coach 32 players who have earned All-Horizon League honors, including a pair of Horizon League Pitcher of the Year (Amy Solava in 2007; Brittany Gardner in 2012) performers.
Loyola's success hasn't been limited to the field however, as the Rambler program has achieved a great deal in the classroom as well, with five individuals earning Capital One Academic All-District V recognition during Beseres' time on staff, while in both 2009 and 2010, the program received a Public Recognition Award from the NCAA for its outstanding Academic Progress Rate (APR) score. Loyola has also been tabbed a NFCA All-Academic Team in three times, twice finishing among the top 11 schools in the nation based on team grade-point average.
During the 2010 campaign, Loyola established a single-season school record with a .292 batting average and matched the school mark with 202 runs. Three Ramblers earned All-Horizon League accolades and two student-athletes, Stephanie Cihlar and Lauren Arceneaux, were selected ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V. Included in Loyola's 22 wins was an 8-0 victory over No. 24 Notre Dame and a 3-2 decision at Northwestern for the program's first win over the Wildcats in Evanston since 1998. Under Beseres' watchful eye, Solava closed out her career ranked second on Loyola's career chart in wins (45), innings pitched (588.0) and strikeouts (412). The righthander also earned Loyola's Director's Award for having the highest grade-point average of any female student-athlete at the school.
In 2009, Beseres helped the Ramblers to a record-breaking season in which they posted 28 victories, the most since 2004. Loyola established a new single-season record for stolen bases (116), and Solava picked up Second Team All-Horizon League accolades, marking the third time in as many seasons she was an all-league selection. Beseres has coached three of Loyola's winningest pitchers in school history in Gardner (48 wins), Solava (45) and Krista Crosson (36).
With Beseres' aid in 2008, Solava earned First Team All-Horizon League honors for the second time in as many seasons, and posted a career-best 16 victories, the most by a Rambler since 2004 and the third-highest, single-season total in school history.
Outfielder Ellen Kresl batted a whopping .374 to become the first Rambler to be a First Team All-Mideast Region selection. Off the field, Kat Krause earned ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V honors for the second consecutive season to become only the third Rambler to earn such recognition on multiple occasions in her career. Arguably the most prolific slugger in Rambler history, Krause closed her career as Loyola's all-time leader with 32 home runs and 93 RBI.
In her first season on the Loyola staff in 2007, Beseres, a former pitcher for the Chicago Bandits of the NPF, helped mentor four First Team All-Horizon League performers, the most since 2004, including Solava, who also earned NFCA All-Mideast Region honors along with Krause. After starting the season with a 4-12 record, Beseres helped right the Ramblers' ship as the team won 17 of its final 26 contests to finish with a 21-21 ledger. Along the way, Loyola posted three wins over nationally ranked teams. A victory over No. 17 Illinois State in March was the team's first win over a ranked team since 2000, and an April 17 victory over No. 7 Northwestern was the program's first ever over a top-ten team. The Ramblers also recorded their first victory over city rival DePaul since 1995 when they bettered the No. 14 Blue Demons, 3-0, in May.
Off the field, Loyola also was recognized for numerous efforts in the classroom and the community. In addition to earning the Horizon League's Community Service Award at Loyola, the Ramblers also placed Krause on the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District V Team.
Arguably the greatest pitcher in Penn State softball history, Beseres went 19-9 with a 1.42 ERA and 234 strikeouts in 191.2 innings of work for the Nittany Lions as a senior in 2006. The right-hander was a key figure for a Penn State squad that posted a program-best 39-16 record that season and made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. She tied a PSU record for shutouts in a season with 10.
Beseres, who tossed two perfect games for the Nittany Lions, ranks second in Penn State history with 53 victories and totaled a school-record 746 strikeouts for her career. She was a Third Team All-Big Ten selection in 2006 and also garnered Second Team All-Great Lakes Region accolades.
A two-time team most valuable player, Beseres graduated from Penn State in 2006 and is currently pursuing a master's degree in social work from Loyola.