CEDAR RAPIDS — Emily Oler of Cedar Rapids said her first season of college softball was a “whirlwind of emotions.”
Despite helping Mount Mercy University to a successful season — 33-25 overall and 21-15 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference — she had to find a balance between school and softball.
“When you’re in high school, you don’t have to worry about playing and studying since softball’s played in the summer.” Oler said.
Now she’s back playing summer softball in the Iowa Women’s Softball League, a second-year program showcasing local collegiate players.
The league was started last year by Jim Ecker to help local players who had nowhere to play in the summer.
There were 50 players from 23 different colleges year ago. This year, there are 80 players from 36 colleges. Most of the players are former local high school standouts, including Oler.
Oler played for Cedar Rapids Washington for a few seasons before transferring to Cedar Rapids Jefferson for her junior and senior seasons. As a senior, she committed to play at Mount Mercy.
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As a freshman in the spring, Oler was named the Heart of America Freshman of the Year and earned first-team all-conference honors. She batted .377 with 17 doubles, 11 home runs and 41 RBIs.
On top of playing a game she loves, Oler has been reunited with her old high school coach Mike Kuba as a member of the Emily’s Hideaway club.
“It’s definitely a throwback because I loved him as a coach in high school and I still love him coaching me now,” she said.
Not only does she have the opportunity to reconnect with an old high school coach, she has rekindled relationships with former travel teammates or high school teammates while forming new friendships with women who share the same love of the game.
The Iowa Women’s Softball League allows players to compete but also have fun with other players from across the state and country.
“It keeps the rust off so it’s not as hard to transition back in the fall season,” Oler said.
The IWSL will take this Sunday off, but will continue every Sunday after through July 29. Games start at noon at Busse Field on the Mount Mercy University campus.