Rick Willis has led the Wartburg football program to a pair of Iowa Conference titles. This afternoon in Salem, Virginia he leads the school’s softball team into the division-three national finals with a first round game against Emory. Willis stepped in after former coach Randy Schnieder unexpectedly resigned in early March. He says it’s been a lot of fun and he never imagined a few months ago that he’d be doing it. Willis was the head baseball coach at Wittenburg of Ohio but had no experience with softball. Willis says he has discovered this spring is that while in depth knowledge of a sport cannot be overlooked, coaching comes down to motivation and giving players an opportunity to succeed. He says that’s the thing he’s learned the most from the experience, that athletes are athletes. Central College is the top seed in the tournament and plays Western New England in this morning’s opener. Pitching and defense have carried the Dutch to this point and coach George Wares says that won’t change this weekend as they’ll rely on their pitching and defense. Western New England is the eight seed and is considered a surprise.
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