For Katie Wede, just making it to the NCAA Division III Championships for softball in Oklahoma City was a dream come true. Last week, she accomplished that as a member of the Case Western Reserve University Spartans softball team that qualified for the championships after winning in both the regional and super regional rounds.
“Oklahoma City is like the capitol for softball. Every little girl wants to end their career in Oklahoma City and get there at some point,” she said. “It’s just amazing to be able to do that with this group of girls and be able to fight for the national championship. It’s honestly a dream come true.”
But once at the championships, things got even better for Wede. At the banquet to open the championships, she received the NCAA’s prestigious Elite 90 Award.
Through the award, the NCAA recognizes student-athletes competing at the highest level in their sport and who have achieved the highest academic record. At each of the NCAA finals sites, the individual with the highest cumulative GPA wins the Elite 90 Award, with all ties broken by the number of credits earned.
Wede had no idea she’d won the award until the announcer read her name. She was shocked; she knew another athlete in Oklahoma City had a stellar academic record.
“I have really worked hard my entire time at Case Western [Reserve] with school and softball, so it’s just amazing to be able to get an award like that,” Wede said. “The people that have gotten it before me—even in Division I too—those players are amazing, so it’s just amazing to be in their company as well.”
Wede is the fourth Case Western Reserve athlete to win the Elite 90 Award, joining Drew Hamilton, who won the award earlier this year in swimming and diving; Sam Merriman (men’s cross country, 2016) and Derek Reinbold (men’s tennis, 2014).
She is the university’s first woman to win the award and is the only University Athletic Association softball player to be recognized.
Wede, who graduated just over a week ago with a major in accountancy, earned a 4.0 GPA with 123 credit hours completed during her time at Case Western Reserve.
On the field, Wede’s record was just as outstanding. Heading into the championships, she had a .321 batting average, four doubles and 15 runs batted in. She had a program-record 26 stolen bases this season on 28 attempts. Wede holds the school record for stolen bases, with 76 heading into last weekend’s games.
And the Elite 90 award wasn’t her only honor as a CWRU softball player; among her many career accolades, she also was:
- Named to the CoSIDA Academic All-District Team this spring;
- Honored as an UAA Spring All-Academic award-winner three times;
- An All-UAA First Team honoree twice in her career, including this season; and
- Named the Most Outstanding Player at the NCAA Super Regional during the last round of the playoffs.
Wede called her senior season a “wild ride.” The team went through a brief stint during the season with several losses in a row, and Wede said she had a rough stretch personally. But heading into the playoffs, the Spartans continued proving themselves.
“As a team, we’ve definitely been able to persevere through the challenges and that’s how we got here,” Wede said.
The team’s memorable season came to a close this weekend. The Spartans took a 7-1 loss against The University of Texas at Tyler to open the championships. In the second game of the double-elimination tournament, the team rebounded with a 2-1 walk-off win against Rowan University. CWRU’s 2018 campaign ended with a 7-6 loss to Luther College.
But even with her collegiate softball days over, Wede has more to look forward to: She will soon begin her career at Morgan Stanley in New York City.