MW SOFTBALL: Lady Jays set goals highWORTHINGTON — A squad with eight new faces isn’t something the Lady Jays are worried about.
WORTHINGTON — A squad with eight new faces isn’t something the Lady Jays are worried about.
With only three sophomores on the Minnesota West softball team, the 2012 season has already brought a lot of changes on the field. Not only are the athletes new, but many of those athletes are also playing new positions.
But MW coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka isn’t concerned with all of that because each player has stepped into her new role seamlessly and is taking on that position with a vengeance.
“That’s the making of a good team right there,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “The girls may not be playing their favorite position and they may not be where they want to be on the field, but they’re there because they know it’s best for the team. That’s a sign of real maturity. They’re seeing the whole picture and they’re willing to adjust to new things to have the best possible team on the field as they can. That’s really nice.”
One area where some changes have had to be made is pitching.
Erin Ebbers and Katherine Kazemba, two of MW’s three sophomores, will pitch for the Lady Jays this season.
Ebbers didn’t pitch a whole lot in either her senior year of high school or her first season with MW. And Kazemba hasn’t pitched since her sophomore year of high school.
Hayenga-Hostikka said Ebbers will be the Lady Jays’ ace and will most likely start every game. The coach said it’s going to come down to a “gut feeling” as to whether or not Kazemba will need to start the second game in a doubleheader or whether she will need to come in for relief during a game.
Last year, Ebbers played infield for MW, while Kazemba acted as catcher for the team.
“I’m just going to try to take things as they come as far as pitching goes,” Kazemba said. “Whether or not I’m ready, I kind of have to be comfortable on the mound. I’m just going to try to give it my best.”
The other sophomore on the team, Alyson Drooger, will continue to play centerfield for MW.
Regardless of the many position changes, the Lady Jays have plenty of strengths on the field.
In their first three games, the Lady Jays already have three players in the top-10 for stolen bases in the Southern Division of the MCAC conference.
Alayna Hall leads the Southern Division with 10 steals, Ebbers is third with five, while Steph Behrens and Kazemba are tied for fourth with three each.
“We have a lot more speed this year than we have had in the past,” Ebbers said. “And even though we have a young team, all of the freshmen have experience playing softball. I think that as long as we think ahead in the game, like knowing where the ball is going to be and kind of planning ahead, that we’ll have a really nice season this year.”
The Lady Jays already have three games under their belts and are 2-1 on the season. Their next doubleheader starts at 3 p.m. today against Anoka Ramsey in Worthington.
With conference play already starting, the Lady Jays know they need to be on top of their game if they want to reach their goal of advancing to the postseason.
But if MW plays to its full potential, the team sees no reason why the Lady Jays shouldn’t make it that far.
“Our goal is to definitely make it to the playoffs,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “The Southern Division of our conference is so tough, so it’s a high goal to be in the top-3 of that conference. But we’re going to see what we can do and we’re not going to settle for anything less than a trip to the playoffs because I think we have the talent and potential to make it that far.”
Daily Globe Sports Reporter Jocelyn Syrstad at 376-7335.