April 19, 2023 at 5:20 p.m.

Infield development key for softball team

Infield development key for softball team
Infield development key for softball team

By Mark [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

Streeters ready to battle conference foes

When Head Coach TJ Schmiesing sent out his infield for the 2023 softball team season opener against Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City April 13 there were a lot of new faces and inexperience at many positions.

In fact, only one, third baseman Lydia Green-Brueggemeier, is a returning starter.

Perhaps the most notable absence from last year’s team that won 18 games is pitcher Maddie Nelson. Nelson had toed the rubber for many years for the Streeters.

Filling her void will be determined and hard-working Hailey Hokanson. Hokanson collected a couple of varsity wins last year for Sauk Centre and has the knack for throwing strikes and letting her defense help her.

“She works so hard at making herself better. She has done a lot of this on her own, getting better as a pitcher even though she didn’t get many chances (in past seasons),” Schmiesing said. “Just that work ethic and the time she puts in to be better at her craft. I don’t know if she had visions of being a pitcher, but I think she saw the future and saw there was a need there after Maddie graduated.”

Also graduating a year ago were first baseman Brenna Bick, second basemen Ella Froseth and shortstop Lisa Weir.

“There are a lot of questions to answer; no doubt about that,” Schmiesing said.

Hoping to fill some of the voids around the diamond include sophomore first basemen Sienna Klaphake, junior second basemen Isie Kolbo and junior shortstop Lanna Walter, who caught last year.

“She’s (Walter) such a good field general. Being a catcher, she’s used to it. With her playing short, I think everything will connect a lot faster. She’s going to be able to be that general on the infield side. Where we’re inexperienced, she’s going to make people feel at ease and a little more comfortable,” Schmiesing said.

Schmiesing said Kate McKeown might see some action at shortstop as well.

The outfield had much less turnover from a year ago. McKeown will be back in leftfield and junior Emily Peters in center. Haddie Walter will play rightfield.

Although they have so many players at new spots, defensive efficiency and not giving extra outs will be paramount for this year’s squad.

“We’ve got a lot of good athletes. It’s just getting experience inside the game of softball. I like a lot of things about this, but it will be a process where we struggle a bit at times. These girls are really positive and understand that we are replacing a great group of seniors and that the growing pains are sometimes going to be difficult,” Schmiesing said.

Because of the cold and late spring the outdoor repetitions that players need to get comfortable at certain positions has been lacking.

“We haven’t been outside much, and, of course, it’s different doing things in the gym. If things aren’t kind of clicking, we might have to do some switching around. It’s not like the cupboards are empty. We have some quality kids to put out there,” Schmiesing said.

Senior Lindsay Bailey will handle the catching duties when Walter is at shortstop. She will also see some time in the outfield.

Offensively, Schmiesing feels the team has some firepower, especially with the trio of Walter, McKeown and Hokanson.

“The top of the lineup has got to produce for us to be successful – if we’ve got girls on, they have to come through,” Schmiesing said.

When girls do reach base, many will have the green light to steal and cause havoc on the base paths.

“Our speed will be one of our strengths – no doubt about that,” Schmiesing said. “Top to bottom, when we get on base, we will be moving.”

Giving the girls quality depth will be outfielders Addy Hoffman and Nadia Stadsvold, infielder Nevaeh Hartmann and pitcher Jenna Riley.

As in the past few years, Morris Area, will be the team to beat. They are the only conference team to finish above Sauk Centre in each of the last two seasons and handed the Streeters their lone two conference losses last season.

“Morris is in a class by itself,” Schmiesing said. “I know these girls would be really pleased if we beat Morris. I haven’t beat them, and this will be my ninth year of coaching.”

Sauk Centre will host Montevideo April 20 in a doubleheader. Then the Streeters travel to Osakis April 24 before hosting the talented Morris squad April 25.

Streeters lose season

 opener to ACGC

ACGC 5, Sauk Centre 1

The pitchers were in complete control of the game until the Falcons scored three runs in the sixth inning and two in the seventh to take the win in their West Central Conference matchup April 14 in Sauk Centre.

The Streeters scored their lone run in the bottom of the fourth inning on a perfectly executed bunt up the first baseline by McKeown who recorded an infield single and easily scored Walter from third.

The ACGC bats warmed up in the later innings as they put three runs across in the sixth inning and two more in the seventh to claim the victory.

The Falcons outhit Sauk Centre 9-3.

McKeown, Hokanson and Kolbo earned hits for Sauk Centre. Hokanson was strong in her first outing of the season. She allowed nine hits and three earned runs.

“Hailey threw a great game. I couldn’t ask anything more out of her. Overall, defensively I thought we played pretty well. We could have done better at bat, but that was the first game of the year and, obviously, a whole new infield, so you’re going to have your hiccups,” Schmiesing said.

Melrose 15, Sauk Centre 3

The Lady Dutchmen broke open a tight game with a combined 12 runs in the fifth and sixth innings as they handed the Streeters a tough home loss April 18.

Sauk Centre trailed 3-2 heading into the fifth inning when the combination of Melrose hits and Streeter mishaps changed the tone of the game. Melrose scored four runs in the fifth inning and eight in the top of the sixth inning. The clobbered out 16 hits and feasted on five Sauk Centre errors.

 “They hit the ball really well and when we had chances to make plays, we didn’t,” Schmiesing said. “We can’t give them any extra outs. That’s when your inexperience shows most, when you get runners on base. That’s where it hurts you.”

Hokanson, a righthander, allowed eight earned runs while walking one and striking out two batters. She had a terrific night at the plate though. Hokanson was 3-3 with two runs batted in. Kolbo, Walter, McKeown and Peters each had one base knock for Sauk Centre.



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