Prep softball: Arrows, Huskies have many new faces around the diamond
PIPESTONE — Pipestone Area may have lost a large group of seniors from year’s softball team, but the Arrows have been preparing now for a season they hope will be just as strong as last spring.
Pipestone Area, with the loss of those seniors after a 19-3 season, will now look to a lesser experienced but just as hungry group to get things done, head coach Troy Bouman said.
“They had pretty much played varsity since they were sophomore and are returning two seniors this year to a group that will have a lot of new faces,” Bouman said. “It was gratifying (for that group to do so well).”
The Arrows finished one step short of the state tournament berth they hoped for, when they lost to New Ulm in the final round of the Section 3AA tournament. The Eagles advanced to win the state championship.
This season, Pipestone Area brings seven seniors into the fold, but only two of them have significant playing experience from the varsity level last season. Those two players are first baseman/pitcher Kelly Nettik and outfielder Brittany Evans.
“A lot of kids are going to have to step up this year and do some things, there’s no question about it,” Bouman said. “Kelly is going to have to do some big things stepping into the circle for us and Brittany had a decent year of running the bases last year and batting. The biggest thing for those two is that they’re the two with the most experience on the field. They’re going to have to really lead by example and be the leaders on the field as far as what needs to get done and what we need to do to be successful.”
Reigning Red Rock champ MCC begins with Arrows
Pipestone Area begins its season with a game with Murray County Central in Slayton. The Rebels nearly ran the table in the Red Rock Conference last season, winning the league with a 9-1 record and only losing to Edgerton/Southwest Christian, in a 4-3 ballgame April 29.
Murray County Central brings a pair of all-conference honorees back from last year in senior pitcher Kristi Bose and junior outfielder Jade Giese. In all, MCC has five returning starters from last year’s team, and this year’s squad begins its season April 8 with Southwestern United visiting Slayton.
“We should be somewhat strong up the middle at center, pitcher and catcher. We’re replacing second, shortstop and a little bit at third,” Rebels head coach James Wager said. “We had a lot of leadership last year and had learned from the season before, so that helped to make everything click last year.
“The girls are excited to get started and to get outside,” Wager added. “I think we’re ready to rock and roll. We start with six games in the first week, so we won’t start light.”
Edgerton/Southwest Christian finished second in the conference, going 7-4 in league play and 15-7 overall. Even through their success, the Dutchmen were young last year. They have no seniors this spring but bring in a group of nine juniors as leadership. E/SWC travels to Worthington April 1.
Adrian Area took third in the league last year, finishing an even 8-8 overall and 5-4 in the conference. The Dragons have Heidi Nolte returning this year as a senior at second base. She received all-conference honors last year and headlines a group of three seniors for Adrian, also including catcher Amy Bents and pitcher Bailey Grussing.
Mountain Lake Area, Southwestern United and Red Rock Central rounded out the conference’s standings in 2013. The Wildcats return all-conference mentions Ida Rogers-Ferguson, a junior pitcher, and junior first baseman Rachel Mathias while MLA brings back sophomore pitcher Signey Stoesz.
JCC brings 11 upperclassmen back from last year’s successful team
The Huskies of Jackson County Central carry 11 upperclassmen into a season where they’ll look to improve from finishing second last year in the Southwest Conference.
The navy-and-silver, with a 9-2 record in conference play, finished 12-7 overall and lost to Worthington, 4-2, in the Section 3AA softball tournament. Pipestone Area recorded two wins against JCC, but otherwise, the Huskies were unscathed in the league. Brittany Woodke, a senior third baseman, is her team’s only returning all-conference selection from last year.
“We should be competitive, but we’ll see. I’ve got lots of new faces with losing seven (seniors),” JCC head coach Shelly Hotzler said. “We shoveled last Friday, hoping to get some of the snow out of here. Our field is pretty clear.”
JCC opens its season at Martin County West, on April 3.
Luverne finished fourth last year in the Southwest Conference, behind Marshall and ahead of Redwood Valley, Windom Area and Worthington. The Cardinals come back this season after going 8-11 last year. They return from last season Tara Sudenga, a senior all-conference shortstop, and senior all-conference outfielder Kristen Reisdorfer.
Windom Area, finishing the conference slate at 3-9 and the season at 8-12, has two seniors on its roster, including Megan Theesfeld and Meghan Vesey.