Pulaski High School Athletic Director Janel Batten was named to the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Hall of Fame as part of its Class of 2021. The WFSCA banquet was Saturday at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells.
Batten, who has been PHS athletic director since 2014, was presented by PHS teacher Jennifer Heck.
“Janel is one of the most competitive people I have ever met who has a very keen knack for understanding how to gain the winning edge over her opponents, a major contributor to the annoyance of all of us who have tried to beat her,” Heck said. “I can speak from personal experience when I say life is definitely better when she’s on your team.”
Batten coached high school softball at Oshkosh West for three years before returning to coach and teach at her alma mater, Appleton East, in 1998. The Patriots had winning seasons in all 16 seasons with Batten as the head coach (1999-2014). Under Batten’s direction, Appleton East made eight appearances in the state tournament. This includes a string of six consecutive appearances from 2008 to 2013. In 2003, the Patriots were the state runners-up and in 2000 the state champions. Batten led her teams to over 400 wins in her tenure and had 41 players recognized on the Wisconsin All-State Team during that time. Batten also volunteered her time coaching the Appleton Truckers and the Appleton Rockers and helped her teams win seven NSA and seven ASA state championships and a national championship in 2000.
Heck said Batten’s countless winning seasons, all-state players, state appearances and championships speak for themselves, but “if you talk to her, her proudest moments are seeing the amazing accomplishments of these athletes in their lives, many of them occurring long after they’ve hung up their cleats.”
Her players always look back fondly and will always remember their days playing ball for Coach Batten, Heck noted. “She has made a difference in a lot of lives. If you ask her about her years at Oshkosh West or Appleton East, she smiles and recalls the names and the faces of the girls who played their hearts out for her and the memories they made together.”
At Pulaski, Batten spearheaded the Field of Dreams fundraiser, of which two of three phases have been built with money raised from the private sector.
In 2016, play began at Saputo Stadium. That project included:
- Pulaski High School stadium (includes installation of turf field);
- Track (with synthetic surface);
- Throwing and jumping areas;
- A practice field; and
- Band seating.
In 2020, a complex with two baseball and two softball fields opened.
“Anything Janel puts her mind to is accomplished and done extremely well,” said Allison Space, PCSD superintendent. “Her drive is unstoppable, no matter what project she is working on. It comes as no surprise to me that she has been given this honor. PCSD is very fortunate to have Ms. Batten on our team!”
Batten has also been instrumental in working around the COVID-19 pandemic to provide all PHS athletes the chance to compete. The 2020 fall sports season was moved to between winter and spring sports in 2021.
Other members of the WFSCA Hall of Fame class of 2021 are:
- Stephanie Hauser, WIAA;
- Jeff Hodgson, Belmont High School; and
- Patty Jansen, Watertown High School.