By DAVE O’SULLIVAN
Recent Egg Harbor Township graduate Nicole Wisser, who helped lead the Eagles’ softball team to an appearance in the Group 4 state championship game as their ace pitcher, was all set to attend Nuemann University this fall. But in late July, Nyack College in New York made a strong push for the right-hander and lured her away from the Philadelphia area with an offer of a full athletic scholarship.
Nyack, a Division II program, competes in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference and is coached by Jeff Aumend, who has experience at both the Division I and Division II levels and started two programs from scratch, including Montana State-Billings. Aumend started the program at MSU-Billings, and four years later the team was 36-12 and knocked the national No. 2 and No. 10 seeds out of the NCAA Tournament. In 2012, he was inducted into the MSU-Billings Hall of Fame. He also led Charleston Southern into the College World Series.
“My pitching coach (Tom Besser) talked to the Nyack coach about me, and I guess (Aumend) looked more into me. Then he got in touch with me, and that’s how it came about. I had no idea about them (initially),” Wisser said. “We decided to take a look at Nyack because they were offering a lot of money, so we figured it wouldn’t hurt to look. We went up to visit the campus and talk to the coach, and I ended up really liking the school and the coach.”
Wisser said the decision to switch her commitment to Nyack wasn’t an easy one, but being offered a full scholarship eventually swayed her toward the Warriors.
“It was a very tough decision — probably the toughest decision I’ve had to make so far. There are a lot of good things about both schools. But I think Nyack was the better option for me. It will be nice coming out of school and not having to worry about student loans. I was very surprised, but I was also very excited,” Wisser said. “From what we talked to (coach Aumend) about, he seems to know softball. He coached at the Division I level, so he seems like he will be a great coach. Last year was his first year coaching there, so they are kind of in a rebuilding process. They haven’t had great seasons the past couple of years, but he’s looking to make them better.”
Wisser had a dominating senior season, going 13-1 in 16 starts with a 1.58 ERA for the Eagles, who went 24-1 and won the Cape-Atlantic League’s American Conference and South Jersey Group 4. The Eagles’ only loss came to Watchung Hills in the state championship game. Wisser allowed just 23 earned runs in 101 innings while striking out 85. She was also a force at the plate, batting .408 with seven doubles, four home runs and 31 RBIs. She led the team with 34 runs scored and struck out just four times in 90 plate appearances.
Wisser said she didn’t expect the offer from Nyack, but Besser, who runs Fastpitch Elite Inc. out of Tabernacle, kept asking college coaches to take a second look at Wisser’s talents.
“I didn’t really think this was going to happen, but I think it mostly had to do with my pitching coach still being in contact with these schools. I think he pushed them to look at me more even though I had committed to Neumann. He pushed them to keep going after me,” Wisser said. “It’s a very small campus, but it’s a beautiful area. Everything is really nice and I like the campus.”
Contact Dave O’Sullivan: firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @GDsullysays
By DAVE O’SULLIVAN