Marshfield sophomore Megan Donahue will be force at the plate and on the mound this season for the Tigers. (Photo by Paul Lecker/MarshfieldAreaSports.com)
This story is sponsored by Forward Financial Bank
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield softball team has a new coach, only one senior, and is coming off a 3-9 season in the Wisconsin Valley Conference, but that is not stopping the Tigers from thinking they are a contender for a top spot in the conference this spring.
While Stevens Point, winners of 18-straight WVC titles, is the favorite to do it again, first-year coach Daniel Costa said he sees the talent in this year’s Marshfield squad that it should be able to finish in the top third of the conference.
“We have the horses to give them (Stevens Point) a game,” Costa said. “Do we have the depth they have? No. But if our No. 1 pitcher (Megan Donahue) is on and we have the defense to back her up, we can compete. It would be a disappointment, with the talent we have, to not finish in the top two or three in the conference.”
Marshfield went 9-15 overall last year and was bounced in the first round of the WIAA Division 1 playoffs. However, six of those losses were by one run, and that coming with three freshmen and two sophomores in the everyday lineup.
With the experience that those young players added, Costa said he feels the Tigers are ready to take the next step.
Catcher Emily Draeger, pitcher/shortstop Megan Donahue, and second baseman Morgan Nordbeck, all sophomores, along with senior third baseman Lexi Dupee, all earned all-conference honors last year.
Draeger, the Tigers’ lone first-team pick, was regarded as one of the better defensive catchers in the conference and also hit .365 with eight RBIs and five stolen bases in conference play.
Donahue was the main pitcher last year, and will be again, after going 2-6 with a league-high 88 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings in WVC action. She also hit .382 and was fourth the Valley with 13 RBIs.
Nordbeck and Dupee were honorable mention choices in 2015.
Junior shortstop/outfielder Melissa Roberts and junior outfielder Alyssa Ede also return to the lineup, and sophomore Kaitlyn Konrardy will play first base and find some time on the mound to give Donahue an occasional rest.
Freshmen outfielders Madeline Mews and Jenna Jakobi round out the starting lineup.
“We are young, but have a lot of potential,” Costa said. “We need more team speed, that is something I’m searching for. We are going to be a gutty, scrappy team, trying to push runs across. The top four or five in the lineup are strong. The bottom will have to bunt, hit-and-run…steal one or two down there.
“We are looking to fill those 9-10-11 spots and get them to play at the 4-5-6 level in the lineup.”
Coach: Daniel Costa, first year.
Last year’s record: 9-15, 3-9 Wisconsin Valley Conference.
2015 WIAA playoffs: Lost to Eau Claire North 3-2 in WIAA Division 1 regional semifinals.
Returning players: Melissa Roberts, jr., SS/LF; Alyssa Ede, jr., OF; Morgan Nordbeck, so., 2B; Lexi Dupee, sr., 3B; Kaitlyn Konrardy, so., P/1B; Emily Draeger, so., C; Megan Donahue, so., P/SS.
Top newcomers: Madeline Mews, fr., OF; Jenna Jakobi, fr., OF; Rhiannon Corobolla, fr., OF/1B/P; Jasmine Fredrick, so., C; Ashtin Zunker, so., OF.
Coach: Anne Teske, first year.
Last year’s record: 6-15, 3-9 Marawood Conference South Division.
2015 WIAA playoffs: Lost 10-1 to Loyal/Granton in WIAA Division 3 regional quarterfinal.
Returning players: Robyn Brokish, sr., P/1B; Mickey Terry, sr., LF; Katie Lundgren, sr., 2B; Hunter Hilber, sr., RF; Sydney Schmutzer, sr., 3B; Jenna Ertl, jr., CF; Brooke Anderson, jr., SS; Rachael Bolder, so., P; Kaeden Dvorak, jr., C; Hannah Bolder, so., 1B; Emma Dimmick, so., 2B; Sherri Brandl, so., C.
Outlook: The Apaches bring back pitchers Robyn Brokish and Rachael Bolder, who was an honorable mention all-Marawood South selection last year. Centerfielder Jenna Ertl also is back after earning second-team all-conference honors. Junior shortstop Brooke Anderson, an honorable mention choice in 2015, is one of the Apaches’ top hitters.
What the coach said: “Our expectations for this season is to prove we are contenders,” Teske said. “We might not win most games, but we will put up a good fight. The girls have been working very, very hard. Their progression is amazing.”
COLUMBUS CATHOLIC DONS
Coach: Jared Krasselt, first year.
Last year’s record: 3-15, 3-11 Cloverbelt Conference East Division.
2015 WIAA playoffs: Lost 13-2 to Greenwood in WIAA Division 4 regional quarterfinal.
Returning players: Abby Baierl, sr., P/SS; Lindsay Schultz, sr., Utility; Lauren Derfus, sr., 2B; Ruth Schultz, sr., OF.
Top newcomers: Annie Baierl, C/SS, fr.; Maren Seefluth, fr., SS.
Others in the mix: Maddie DeSmet, jr., P/1B; Sierra Litwatis, jr., Utility; Sydney Tolppi, jr., C/OF; Baylie Neider, jr., OF; Gabriella Schultz, so., Utility; Zoey Stratman, so., 2B; Rebecca Kithauber, so., 1B; Sophia Mauney, so., P/3B; Kasey Carter, so., Utility.
Outlook: The Dons look to improve on a three-win season with a group of four seniors returning, including honorable mention all-conference pitcher/shortstop Abby Baierl.
Coach: Jason Gorst, seventh year (103-35).
Last year’s record: 21-4, 14-0 Cloverbelt East.
2015 WIAA playoffs: Def. Loyal/Granton 3-0 in WIAA Division 3 regional semifinals; Lost 9-1 to Marathon in regional finals.
Returning players: Macie Weber, sr., P; Mandie Schultz, sr., C; Lindsey Vaughan, sr., 3B; Kallie Reckner, sr., DP; Courtney Buss, jr., 2B; Katie Fleischman, jr., OF; Lexi Baehr, so., 1B.
Others in the mix: Elllayna Lyon, sr., P/IF; Jessica Meinders, sr., OF; Sydney Kind, sr., OF; Jenna Schober, jr., OF; Cinnamin Harwood, jr., OF; Felicia Bauer, jr., IF/P; Montana Kleinschmidt, jr., IF/OF; Sadie Mercier, so., IF/OF/C; Tiffany Meinders, fr., P/IF/C.
Outlook: The Rockets are coming off a perfect season in the Cloverbelt Conference East Division as they won their third championship in the last six years. Seven letterwinners return this season, including first-team all-conference pitcher Macie Weber, who was 16-3 with a 1.34 ERA and 148 strikeouts a year ago. Catcher Mandie Schultz (.380 batting average), third baseman Lindsey Vaughan (.344 average, 18 RBIs), and first baseman Lexi Baehr (.338, 19 RBIs) are also back after being named second-team all-conference a year ago.
Coach: Mandy Pankratz, 10th year (124-73)
Last year’s record: 20-6, 11-1 Marawood Conference South Division.
2015 WIAA playoffs: Def. Colby 15-0 in WIAA Division 3 regional quarterfinals; Lost 5-0 to Marathon in regional semifinals.
Returning players: Casey Kolbeck, sr., 1B; Kaylee Geiger, sr., 3B; Lorrie Luepke, sr., P/IF; Courtney Krall, sr., OF; Emily Manecke, sr., Utility; Brittany Bredemann, jr., C; Sammy Griesbach, jr., OF; Sammy Kaiser, jr., OF; Val Licciardi, jr., OF; Kiana Weiler, so., P/IF.
Top newcomers: Macey Kilty, fr., SS; Hannah Schoenfuss, sr., Utility.
Outlook: The Tigers return 10 varsity players, including four that received all-Marawood South honors in each of the past two years, and two others that were on the all-conference squad in 2015 when Stratford finished 20-6 overall and tied Marathon for the conference title at 11-1. Catcher Brittany Bredemann hit. 625 with 17 RBIs in conference play and third baseman Kaylee Geiger batted .500 with 18 RBIs last year for the Tigers. Those two, along with pitcher Lorrie Luepke (6-1, 1.91 ERA, and .400 batting average), were first-team all-Marawood South choices.
What the coach had to say: “We have a great group of girls returning and some new faces as well,” Pankratz said. “This group doesn’t take anything for granted and realize that they need to work hard each and every day. They take the team philosophy very seriously and that is our focus daily. We have a tough schedule this year and I am excited to see this group work together to get better each day out.”