Team-first Koerner leads Notre Dame
Benjamin Padanilam | Tuesday, April 21, 2015
This spring season represents the final season in blue and gold for one of Notre Dame’s most decorated athletes. While she may not receive the same level of recognition as higher-profile athletes, few have had the level of success in their sport that senior outfielder Emilee Koerner has had while donning an Irish jersey over the last four years.
“Emilee is one of the most fun hitters I’ve ever watched play the game because she keeps hitting so simple,” Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf said. “When you can do that as a player, you’ve got something special. She can do it all. She’s special. There’s not a lot of hitters like her.”
Over the course of her career, a résumé she is still adding to as her senior season plays out, Koerner has recorded a .400 batting average while amassing 33 home runs and 162 RBIs. She is Notre Dame’s all-time leader in doubles and slugging percentage, along with a two-time All-American and the only player in program history to finish in the top 10 of USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year voting. Koerner was also named the ACC Player of the Week on Monday, her fifth career conference player of the week award.
Despite receiving all those accolades and recognition, Koerner said her pride in these distinctions does not come from personal satisfaction. Rather, she said, it comes from the way in which it represents her play for her team.
“It means a lot to me because it means that I’m contributing to the team and its success as a whole,” Koerner said. “Anything I can do to better that is what makes me feel good. It’s really cool to be recognized for that, but the recognition is the coolest because it’s for the team and not for myself.”
In fact, it was because of her team-first attitude and leadership on the field that Koerner was selected to be a co-captain for the Irish this season alongside senior infielder Jenna Simon.
“It’s huge,” Koerner said. “It tells me that the team is confident in myself and my co-captain for decisions and confident in us to lead them. They trust us off the field as well as on the field. To [be a captain] for them is a big honor.”
After four years of being a member of the program, Koerner said she has a lot of special memories both on and off the field.
“My off-the-field memories with my teammates are some of my favorites,” Koerner said. “That’s because we have such a great bond with each other, my classmates especially. The four of us are extremely close. We’re great friends, and off the field, we have a lot of fun with each other.
“On the field, Strikeout Cancer two years ago against Rutgers was one of my favorite games to ever be a part of in my entire life because it was such a huge excitement for the team. Some of my favorite memories are also at regionals because that’s where the game is on, and that’s where you show who you are. I’ve loved every moment of being here.”
Koerner will have the opportunity to continue to play the game that she loves after leaving Notre Dame. She was drafted by the National Pro Fastpitch’s USSSA Pride in the fourth round of the league’s draft April 1. Koerner said she is excited to have the opportunity to play at the next level.
“It’s awesome,” Koerner said. “It’s an honor to be able to continue playing after college. A lot of girls are done after their last game at school, so it’s really cool to have the opportunity to say that I’m not done and be able to play at an even higher level than college. It’s really cool to have the chance to play with so many girls that are so talented in the game and try to better my game.”
Most of all, however, Koerner said she will remember the people more than anything else when she looks back at her time at Notre Dame.
“I remember the people more than I remember the softball,” Koerner said. “The people and interacting with them is what I’m going to remember the most in my experience.”