Softball returns young, hungry juniors to the field

The Dragon softball team’s last season record ended up 2-17 with a loss in the first round of subsections in post season play. This year’s theme is positive – ‘We don’t sweat – we leak awesome.’

Team strengths this year include three seniors with a lot of varsity experience, a junior class that is looking to break into the lineup and returning two juniors this year to the mound.

“We have a big group of juniors, but collectively do not have a lot of varsity innings so we’re very young and we’re going to make some mistakes early,” said coach Jena Dennis. “But we have a smart group of girls that are going to learn from those mistakes and get better every day that come to practice looking to take advantage of other teams’ weaknesses.”

The other big challenge the team has had to contend with the last five years is the weather.

“We have not been able to practice on a field before first game and have found nooks and crannies for fly balls, ground balls and set up an infield wherever we can find a patch of dry ground. We need to stay healthy and avoid injuries, which is really tough when there’s ice and snow and you’re trying to practice a spring sport where there’s supposed to be dirt and grass,” Dennis said.

“This year’s group has been working hard on our short game and we hope to break that out early and often to move girls around the bases,” said Dennis. “The junior class has the key to this year’s success; if they come in everyday and make one thing better, by the end of the year we will have all the right pieces for playoffs.”

This year, returning from an injury last season is Kylie Berube as shortstop, and the team will be looking for some great things from her, as well as second baseman Haven Spychalla who will need to be a leader in the infield, and Annabelle Johnson.

“I need her to lock down any fly ball in the outfield or block everything in the dirt as a catcher,” said Dennis.

Returning juniors include McKenna Nelson at first base.

“She is solid with the glove and is gaining confidence with the bat,” said Dennis.

Returning to the infield are Sophia Christian, Megan Root and Daisy Koffler who are looking to really make their marks and solidify their spots in the lineup.

New to the varsity this season is junior Haley Milliman. “I’m really looking forward to seeing her on the mound and in left field to see what she can do, as well as Lily Wilson and Abby Pulkrabek in the outfield,” Dennis said.

“We are trying to work hard, sprinting everywhere and doing all the little things in practice so that when we get to the game we get to rely on our instincts,” she said. “We’re young and we’re learning from each other, but if these girls put in the effort they have the potential for a good run in the playoffs.”

The Dragons were scheduled to play Barnum on April 4 and next up, weather permitting, they will be taking on Hinckley-Finlayson this Thursday, April 11.

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