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Prep softball: Trojans hope to be sneaky fast

WORTHINGTON -- Much of the offense from the 2014 Worthington Trojans softball team has graduated, but speed remains. And that's what head coach Josh Wasmund hopes to build upon in 2015. "This year some of our quicker girls are going to have to tr...

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Jesse Trelstad/Daily Globe Allie Bruns throws to first during softball practice in the Worthington High School gymnasium.

 

WORTHINGTON - Much of the offense from the 2014 Worthington Trojans softball team has graduated, but speed remains. And that’s what head coach Josh Wasmund hopes to build upon in 2015.
“This year some of our quicker girls are going to have to try to slap it. Because we’ve got some good team speed. We’re going to have to be scrappy,” Wasmund said.
Worthington will have its work cut out for it early. The Trojans, who posted a 7-14 record last season, open on the road Tuesday against 2014 Class A state tournament qualifier Edgerton/Southwest Christian, which defeated WHS 20-1 in a regular season contest last spring. When it faces the E-Gals, Worthington will be without graduates Paige Kinley, Becca Linder and Aleanna Heig, who were responsible for more than half of the team’s offense in 2014.
Wasmund is optimistic, however. “I think we’re going to have a surprising team,” he said. “Everybody knows what we’ve lost from last year. But this group, they seem to work well together, and they get along.”
Seven letter winners provide the nucleus. They include seniors Betsy Thompson (shortstop) and Carly Byrne (pitcher), juniors Allie Bruns (catcher), Katy Rogers (third base) and Olivia Petersen (outfield), and sophomores Liz Hayenga (outfield) and Madison Neuberger (outfield-pitcher).
Thompson “is as good a defender as you can find,” says Wasmund, and predicts she’ll be on base a lot due to her speed. She drove in 13 runs last year and scored 17 times.
Byrne is the team’s top pitcher. She’s throwing harder than she did a year ago, says her coach, and she’s closer to the strike zone. “She seems to have more confidence in herself, from what I’ve seen,” Wasmund maintains.
Bruns collected 10 RBI last season and compiled an OPS average (on base plus slugging) above 1.000 last season. She’s expected to be one of the Trojans’ better hitters and has a strong arm.
Rogers hit .471 last season and also had an OPS above 1.000. She will also do some pitching. Blessed with ample natural ability, she can play virtually any position.
Petersen has played the infield for most of her career but will switch to the outfield. She, too, has a strong arm and is showing a good knack for tracking down fly balls.
Hayenga scored 15 runs in 2014 and is a good slap hitter with good speed. Neuberger will help the Trojans at the plate.
Starting the season against Edgerton/Southwest Christian will be an interesting early-season test for the Trojan girls, Wasmund explained. “I think we’re going to learn how tough it’s going to be getting runners on base. (E/SWC ace Tianna) Top is one of the best pitchers in the area. And we’ll see what we’ve got that very first game.”
Worthington has just two seniors on the varsity squad this spring, with seven to eight juniors and 11 sophomores also on hand. The Trojans are positioned in the “big school” section of the Big South Conference, and Wasmund believes New Ulm is the strongest team on paper. Beyond that, he is confident his team can compete with the other teams in the league.
But to do so, they’ll have to play scrappy softball.
“We were hoping to have runners on base last year for our big hitters,” Wasmund said, “and now we’re going to have to try to move them around.”

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JESSE TRELSTAD/DAILY GLOBE Returning letter winners for the 2015 Worthington Trojans softball team are (from left) Liz Hayenga, Katie Rogers, Madison Neuberger, Olivia Petersen, Carly Byrne, Betsy Thompson and Allie Bruns.

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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