Marshfield's Lindsey Duerr returns for her third season as a starter at second base for the Tigers' softball team. (Photo by Paul Lecker/MarshfieldAreaSports.com)
This story is sponsored by Dental Clinic of Marshfield
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – The Marshfield softball team had one of its best seasons in recent memory last year, finishing 15-10 and making it all the way to the WIAA Division 1 sectional finals before a loss to Chippewa Falls.
The Tigers lost four players to graduation and another, shortstop Taylor Varsho, is out with a knee injury suffered during the basketball season. That leaves the door open for a number of new players to step into the lineup and try to duplicate what Marshfield accomplished in 2010.
Seven of the 12 players on the roster are seniors, but only four have much varsity experience – returning starters Kristin Kniech (third base), Lindsey Duerr (second base), Becky Boehning (center field) and Rhiannon Baierl (pitcher).
“From an experience standpoint, we are pretty young,” Marshfield coach Mike Voss said. “A lot of the team last year played every inning. The biggest thing right now is that they are having a hard time with the mental part of the game, being prepare for that next play, knowing what to do in certain situations. They are getting accustomed to what they need to do.”
Duerr, who had a .282 batting average and 10 RBIs in Wisconsin Valley Conference action last year, moves into the leadoff spot replacing four-time WVC batting champion Andie Varsho.
Kniech (.172 avg., 3 RBIs), who went 4-for-5 in the Tigers’ season-opening win at Tomah last week, will hit clean-up behind sophomores Taylor Hasz (first base) and Sara Fuller (shortstop).
Duerr and Kniech, as seniors, will have to set the tone offensively, Voss said.
“Lindsey, defensively, is strong,” Voss said. “She just has to get accustomed to hitting leadoff and do some of the things Andie has done for the last four years – getting on base and make some stuff happen.
“Kristin will play an important role and will have to step it up offensively. She did that in our first game and will have to continue to do that.”
Baierl, who was 7-4 with a 3.41 ERA on the mound in conference games last season, will have to up her game on offense as well. She had eight RBIs, but hit only .167.
Sara Sturomski will bat sixth and play catcher, replacing the graduated Raelynn Wingert. Sturomski saw limited time behind the dish a year ago.
Boehning will hit sixth, moving up from ninth where she hit .323 with 10 runs scored a year ago. She also moves from left field to center field, replacing Andie Varsho.
“Becky’s a four-year starter and so far she’s been doing well in center field, getting to falls and being the leader defensively in the outfield,” Voss said.
Seniors Megan Gregorich (left field) and Abby Besler (right field) round out the lineup.
Juniors Alyssa Spencer (catcher) and Melissa Yang (outfield), and senior Jenny Krokstrom (infield/outfield) provide bench depth.
Other than the nonconference game at Tomah, the Tigers haven’t played on a regular field during their three weeks of practice. Voss doesn’t see it as a problem, since a lot of what his team needs to get better involves the mental aspect of the game.
“The things we need to do and need to work on, we can do anywhere,” Voss said. “It’s a lot of situational work, stuff that they realize they need to work on and it doesn’t matter where we do it. They’re being pretty positive.”
Marshfield is scheduled to open its Wisconsin Valley Conference season at Wisconsin Rapids on Tuesday and open its home schedule with a WVC game against Merrill on Friday. The Marshfield Invitational, with Medford, La Crosse Logan and Tomahawk, is set for Saturday at the Marshfield Fairgrounds.