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College softball: Minnesota West season in limbo

BY DOUG WOLTER dwolter@dglobe.com WORTHINGTON -- Jeff Linder may be the only sports coach who sees a silver lining in this year's snowy, cold spring. Due to the lingering winter, virtually all of the early-season schedules for every organized sou...

BY DOUG WOLTER

dwolter@dglobe.com

 

WORTHINGTON -- Jeff Linder may be the only sports coach who sees a silver lining in this year’s snowy, cold spring.

Due to the lingering winter, virtually all of the early-season schedules for every organized southwest Minnesota team have been canceled or postponed. But that doesn’t mean so much for the Minnesota West Lady Jays softball program, which hasn’t gotten off the ground in 2018, anyway.

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At this point, Linder says, there may or may not be a season for the Jays. It’s not the weather that’s the sticky issue -- it’s numbers, especially considering that the team’s one true pitcher is injured.

Katherin Ihnen enjoyed an outstanding winter basketball season for West, and she’s on board to be the workhorse pitcher for the softball team this spring. But injuries have gotten in the way. Ihnen, a sophomore from Round Lake, is still trying to recover from foot and shoulder (her pitching shoulder) injuries.

There are other veteran players pounding their gloves, too, including important members from the 2017 squad, Emily Haubrich, Ashlynn Wabeke and Rebecca Sjogren.

But for now, it’s a waiting game while Linder continues working at getting more players for a team that -- even if it plays -- still lacks depth.

“We’re trying to do things with the girls that are able to be here. And we’re not sure where Katherin is going to end up. It’s frustrating for us,” said Linder, adding, “Although, with the weather, for us, it gives us more time.”

Linder, who doubles as Minnesota West’s head football coach, is a big proponent of community college athletics, which he sees as a play-now opportunity that doesn’t always occur at four-year schools. Currently, there are enough players to field a Minnesota West softball team today. But:

“There’s just a lot of question marks for that pitcher’s spot,” he said.

If West can’t field a softball team this season, Linder will not be happy.

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“I’d be extremely disappointed. I take pride in what I do. I take pride in all the sports that I coach, and my teaching. My heart is at Minnesota West,” he said.

A year ago, the Minnesota West softball team lost more games than it won. But the players improved steadily, Linder said, and that’s one of the things he’s especially proud of.

“I’ve got girls who really like this game. I know they have a lot of fun with it. We didn’t have all the wins we’d like to see, but we had a lot of success,” said the coach.

 

Related Topics: COLLEGE SOFTBALL
Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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