Minnesota West golf, softball teams sign area athletesWORTHINGTON — Luverne’s Kaia Nowatzki has come a long way since her days in the back yard with plastic golf clubs. Nowatzki, along with Windom’s April Buhler, signed to play golf at Minnesota West Community and Technical College Monday. While the golf team signed two players Monday, the MW softball team added a pair of area athletes Friday.
By: Aaron Hagen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — Luverne’s Kaia Nowatzki has come a long way since her days in the back yard with plastic golf clubs.
Nowatzki, along with Windom’s April Buhler, signed to play golf at Minnesota West Community and Technical College Monday.
“It’s going to be awesome,” Nowatzki said. “April and I are friends. It’s going to be fun to be on the same team.”
While the golf team signed two players Monday, the MW softball team added a pair of area athletes Friday.
Jackson County Central’s Amanda Wagley and Worthington’s Hannah Solem each committed to playing for the Lady Jays next season.
For the women’s golf team, Ron Wood will again take the helm as the head coach and is excited with the new recruits.
“I think the big thing is that they are individuals that are from the area; they really want to be here,” Wood said. “Historically, in the Minnesota Community College golf programs, it’s been difficult to find quality female golfers that you haven’t had to twist their arm. These two are very excited about the opportunity to continue to play golf.”
For Buhler and Nowatzki, being able to continue their golfing career is an exciting step.
“I’ve been looking forward to playing golf all summer and being able to continue doing it for competition,” Buhler said.
However, the two know they will have to improve their game for the next level.
“I’m hoping to refine a few things and hopefully learn something new,” Buhler said.
With Nowatzki and Buhler, along with the returning players, Wood hopes to have a competitive team in the fall.
“I think right away, these are two quality golfers,” Wood said. “I’ve seen them both shoot in the mid-to low 90s in rounds. I think they will just get stronger as they get older. It’s like anything else, people grow up. It’s amazing what happens between the senior year and the start of the college season.”
Both players will bring experience with them and will hope to make an immediate impact on the program.
“I’ve been playing competition golf since seventh grade and varsity since my freshman year. I remember having the plastic golf clubs, playing in by back yard,” Nowatzki said. “I’m excited to be playing golf. Furthering your career is the best part.”
While the women’s golf team is looking to build on young talent, the softball team also made a stride in its off-season recruiting with a pair of local athletes.
“I think Amanda is going to be an incredible asset for us,” head softball coach Rosalie Hayenga said. “She was one of the top seniors in the state, so to be able to sign and recruit one of the top seniors in the state is a boost for the program.”
For JCC, Wagley played at third base and will be an asset to the Lady Jays both offensively and defensively.
“She’s a great infielder, and she has a lot of power, so she’s going to be able to hit the ball,” Hayenga said. “She’s a third baseman by trade, and we might see if we can move her around in the infield a little bit.
“Just to bring someone of that caliber from a high-caliber program like Jackson County Central is just great,” Hayenga added.
Solem played in right field last season for Worthington, but may see time in other positions at MW.
“I think that Hannah has her best softball coming up,” Hayenga said. “I think she has some potential to keep getting better, which I think she did throughout high school.”
After a season with missed opportunities, Hayenga hopes that a few recruits will put MW over the edge.
“I think we’re on the border of really breaking through and being a very, very tough program,” Hayenga said. “We’re excited about bringing these kids in. It’s going to be huge for our program.”