Softball: City previews
Head coach: Chad Buchmann (7th season, 60-69 record).
Last season: The Panthers finished 5-15.
Top returners: Ali Henriksen (All-Conference).
Season outlook: With eight seniors on the roster, the Panthers will be experienced and should be competitive in the Big Nine. All-Conference lead-off hitter Ali Henriksen will anchor the infield and the Panthers have two returning senior pitchers in Emma Kartheiser and Anglea Spors. Sarah Erickson and Lizzy Spenser are two solid senior catchers. Senior Lauren Luhman (2B) will team up with Henriksen (SS) to play middle infield. Junior Ella Wieneke will hold down center field along with seniors Kendra Nelson, Ella Lentz and sophomore Molly Kong. Senior Morgan Bergman and sophomore Martha Doughterty will hold down the corners outfield spots.
Coach’s comments: “We know it’s about putting all the pieces together each year, working together and working as team to be successful," Buchmann said. "The Ladies have been playing together for a long time and we’re excited for the season to start. Last year we lost a good number of one or two run games and we’re focused on changing that. Four of our first six games are at home and I think we can use that to our advantage to get off to a quick start.”
Seniors: Morgan Bergman (1B), Sarah Erickson (C/3B), Emma Kartheiwer (P/C), Ella Lentz (OF), Lauren Luhman (2B/SS), Kendra Nelson (OF), Elizabeth Spencer (C/1B), Angela Spors (P/U). Junior: Ella Wieneke (OF). Sophomores: Alivia Henriksen (SS/3B), Molly Kong (OF), Martha Dougherty (3B).
Head coach: Thang Nguyen (18th season, 199 wins most in JM softball history).
Last season: The Rockets finished 13-6 overall, 7-4 in the Big Nine and fourth in Section 1AAAA.
Top returners: Five starters return in seniors Grace Freed (OF, .242 average, 21 runs scored), Gina Pula (OF, .314 average, All-Big Nine honorable mention) and Melanie Sadecki (SS, .283 average), sophomore pitcher Abby Miles (10-3 record, All-Big Nine, All-Section) and junior Olivia Evans (3B, .274 average, led the team in doubles, All-Big Nine honorable mention).
Top newcomers: Sam Guetter (C), Gabby Dokken (OF), Mikayla Gee (2B), Maggie Yadlosky (U), Megan Jensen (1B), Ashley Koehler (U), Megan Ihrke (U), Claire Evans (P).
Season outlook: Big Nine will be very strong again this year with Faribault, Mankato West, Mankato East and Winona all return very strong pitchers and teams. The Rockets might be in the next tier of teams with Northfield, Century and Mayo. JM lost a lot of experience, especially on offense, but has a nice group of returning players, at pitcher, third base and in the outfield.
Coach’s comments: "We don't have a lot of depth but we do have a solid core group," Thang Nguyen said. "Our pitching and defense will carry us early in the season, as we work to get the hitting we will need to be successful. Our players all work hard and want to get better.
Seniors: Grace Freed (OF), Gina Pula (OF), Melanie Sadecki (INF), Sam Guetter (C), Maggie Yadlosky (U). Juniors: Olivia Evans (3B), Gabby Dokken (OF), Megan Jensen (1B), Ashley Koehler (U). Sophomores: Abby Miles (P), Mikayla Gee (2B), Megan Ihrke (U). Freshman: Claire Evans (P).
Head coach: Steve Lewison (6th season).
Last season: The Spartans finished 7-15 overall, 6-13 in the Big Nine Conference.
Top returners: Starters back include Johanna Muenkel (INF), Jadyn Koestering (P/INF), Jade Floyd (INF), Bryn Carlstrom (C/INF), Destiny Schellhammer (OF), Jessica Condon (P).
Top newcomers: Kendra Stevens (C), Jackie Klein (OF).
Season outlook: The Spartans have six returning players who started at some point a year ago, but are still fairly young as outfielder Ellie McIntyre is the lone senior on the roster. The Spartans are also not very deep as just 10 players are listed on the varsity roster. "If we can stay away from the injury bug we have a chance to finish middle of the pack of the Big Nine," coach Steve Lewison said.
Coach's comments: "Unfortunately we play in Section One and the Big Nine," Lewison said. "The Big Nine has a ton of softball talent. In the very near past we have had three state champions out of our conference Faribault, Winona and Mankato West. Farmington was a state champion a couple years ago out of our section. We have a lot of work to do to catch up to those talented programs."
Senior: Ellie McIntyre (OF). Juniors: Johanna Muenkel (INF), Jadyn Koestering (P/INF), Jackie Klein (OF), Jade Floyd (INF), Bryn Carlstrom (C/INF). Sophomores: Jessica Condon (P), Destiny Schellhammer (OF), Kendra Stevens (C), Alicia Boswell (INF).
Head coach: Becky Macken (9th Season, 116-58).
Last season: The Eagles finished 21-4 overall and 9-2 in HVL. They lost in the Section 1AA to section champion Winona Cotter.
Top returners: Katie Virgin (All-Conference, All-State), Alyssa Ustby (All-Conference, All-Section), Margaret Rogers (All-Conference, All-Section, MVP), Michaela Krahn, Anna Taylor, Claire Creighton, Veronica Taylor, Linda O’Connell, Ashley Krom.
Top newcomers: Sonya Schroeder, Mary Wright, Karin Hayford, Ellie VanSande.
Season outlook: With a lot of quality players, the Eagles should be in contention to compete for both a HVL and a Section 1AA title. Anna Taylor was 5-1 on the mound with a 1.45 ERA and she also hit .375 at the plate. Katie Virgin was an All-State selection while hitting a lusty .500. Other top hitters back are Alyssa Astby (.452 average), Margaret Rogers (.437) and Michaela Krahn (.385).
Coach's comments: "We look forward to challenging the team with a difficult schedule to prepare them for the post-season," coach Becky Macken said. "Our conference and section will be tough again. It’s a please working with these student athletes. The team is experienced and has a high softball IQ."
Seniors: Claire Creighton (OF), Ashley Krom (3B), Linda O’Connell (OF), Margaret Rogers (CF), Sonya Schroeder (OF), Anna Taylor (P), Veronica Taylor (C), Katie Virgin (1B). Juniors: Michaela Krahn (2B), Alyssa Ustby (SS), Mary Wright (P), Ellie VanSande (C). Sophomore: Karin Hayford (OF).
— Guy N. Limbeck