By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD — A strong group of returning players and an upset victory in the playoffs last spring has the Marshfield softball team thinking big coming into the 2017 season.
The Tigers won a WIAA Division 1 regional title last season with an upset victory at Chippewa Falls and finished 15-13 overall after losing 2-1 in the sectional semifinals to Hudson.
First-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference outfielder Jenna Jakobi and second-team pick Megan Donahue, the team’s main pitcher, are among those returning to the starting lineup for the Tigers, who are off to a 6-1 start this season.
Jakobi, a sophomore, hit .424 with 30 runs scored and seven outfield assists last year, and Donahue, a junior, smacked 12 home runs, had 47 RBIs, and totaled 243 strikeouts in 141 1/3 innings on the mound.
Also back are junior catcher Emily Draeger, senior third baseman Melissa Roberts, junior first baseman Kaitlyn Konrardy, junior infielder Morgan Nordbeck, and sophomore outfielders Rhiannon Corozolla and Maddie Mews.
“We have high expectations this year with a good returning core group of players coming back,” second-year Marshfield coach Daniel Costa said. “We expect to compete with the best teams in our conference for a conference title.”
Freshman Jordan Pretsch and juniors Jasmine Fredrick and Madison Derus are among those that will also compete for playing time.
Marshfield’s lone loss this season came to defending conference and WIAA Division 1 state champion Stevens Point 4-1 on April 6.
After finishing fourth in the Wisconsin Valley Conference last season (7-5), Marshfield is primed to make a run toward a top spot.
“With so many of our conference teams winning playoff games and advancing last year, the fact that we have such a strong conference can only help us in the long run come playoff time,” Costa said. “After getting a small taste of success in our mouths with a regional championship at Chippewa Falls last year, we are eager and hungry to try to make an even deeper run into the playoffs this year.”
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Coach: Daniel Costa, second year (15-13).
Last year’s record: 15-13, 7-5 Wisconsin Valley Conference.
2016 WIAA playoffs: Def. New Richmond 10-0 in Div. 1 regional semifinals; Def. Chippewa Falls 11-8 in regional finals; lost to Hudson 2-1 in sectional semifinals.
Returning players: Megan Donahue, jr., P/C; Emily Draeger, jr., C; Jenna Jakobi, so., OF; Melissa Roberts, sr., 3B; Kaitlyn Konrardy, jr., 1B/P; Morgan Nordbeck, jr., 2B/SS; Rhiannon Corozolla, so., OF; Maddie Mews, so., OF.
Top newcomers: Jordan Pretsch, fr., SS/2B; Jasmine Fredrick, jr., OF; Madison Derus, jr., Utility.
Coach: Anne Teska, second year (9-10-1).
Last year’s record: 9-10-1, 6-6 Marawood Conference South Division.
2016 WIAA playoffs: Lost to Loyal/Granton 7-2 in Div. 3 regional quarterfinals.
Returning players: Brooke Anderson, sr., SS; Jenna Ertl, sr., CF; Kaeden Dvorak, sr., C; Emma Dimick, jr., 2B; Hannah Bolder, jr., 1B; Rachael Bolder, jr., 3B/P; Teryn Lau, so., LF; Mackenzie Raab, so., RF; Alexis Soppe, so., P; Marissa Ponshock, so., 3B; Marissa Spatz, so., C.
Top newcomers: Jenna Snortheim, so.; Maggie Willfahrt, fr., P; Carly Willfarht, fr.; Natalie Aue, fr.; Abby Koopman, fr.
What the coach said: “Our expectations this year is to finish over .500,” Teska said. “We also expect to give teams a tough game. We start out season with a bang and beat Prentice 17-0 on March 31. We would also like to go farther in the regionals.”
Columbus Catholic Dons
Coach: Arnie Neubauer, first year.
Last year’s record: 3-14, 1-11 Cloverbelt Conference East Division.
2016 WIAA playoffs: Lost to Rib Lake 9-8 in Div. 4 regional quarterfinals.
Returning players: Sierra Litwaitis, sr., SS/OF/P; Maddie DeSmet, sr., P/1B; Ella Schultz, jr., SS/P/OF; Maren Seefluth, so., OF/SS; Annie Baierl, so., C.
Top newcomers: Cassidy Strey, OF; Zoe Stratman, OF/2B; Sophia Mauney, OF/3B/P; Bekah Kitzhaber, OF/1B; Kasey Carter, OF; Taylor Tolppi, C/OF; Anna Roewe, 2B; Brooke Neider, 3B; Emiliy Nemitz, 3B; Holly Dean, OF; Annika Brown, 2B/OF; Addison Baierl, OF/1B/P.
What the coach said: “(We want to) create an atmosphere that has players realizing that there’s a lot of positive fastpitch ability here at Columbus Catholic, and be competitive in every game,” Neubauer said. “There’s not a lot of pitching experience coming into the season. Our approach will be taking one at-bat at a time and one game at a time.”
Coach: Jason Gorst, seventh year (120-42).
Last year’s record: 17-6, 12-0 Cloverbelt Conference East Division.
2016 WIAA playoffs: Def. Loyal/Granton 14-4 in Div. 3 regional finals; lost to Marathon 2-1 in sectional semifinals.
Returning players: Courtney Buss, sr., SS/C; Jenna Schober, sr., OF; Lexi Baehr, jr., IF/C; Cinnamin Harwood, sr., IF; Katie Fleischman, sr., OF; Sadie Mercier, jr., IF/C; Tiffany Meinders, so., P; Felicia Bauer, so. OF.
Top newcomers: Montana Kleinschmidt, sr., 1B; Miranda Jackson, sr., DP; Aryiah Schuh, fr., OF; Shaelee Neitzel, so., OF.
What the coach said: “We have a lot of rebuilding to do with some of our major losses,” Gorst said. “The conference should have more parity than in past seasons with as many as five teams that could win the championship. We hope to be competitive in that group, but we will need players to step forward.”
Coach: Mandy Pankratz, 11th year (143-80).
Last year’s record: 19-7, 10-2 Marawood Conference South Division.
2016 WIAA playoffs: Def. Wittenberg-Birnamwood 11-1 in Div. 3 regional quarterfinals; def. Bonduel 6-2 in regional semifinals; def. Oconto 5-3 in regional finals; def. Marathon 3-2 in sectional semifinals; lost to Laconia 2-0 in sectional finals.
Returning players: Brittany Bredemann, sr., C; Sammy Griesbach, sr., SS; Sammy Kaiser, sr., OF; Val Licciardi, sr., OF/P; Kiana Weiler, jr., P.
Top newcomers: Shalynn Griesmer, sr., 2B; Sam Manecke, sr., 1B; Cassidy VanDerLeest, jr., 3B; Courtney Kaiser, jr., Utility; McKenzie Ford, jr., OF; Anna Goldbach, jr., 1B; Madisyn Daul, jr., Utility; Kaylee Hollatz, jr., 1B/P; Kaitlyn Doll, sr., OF; Sydney Boeger, so., IF.
What the coach said: “We have some returning players in new positions and a lot of new faces to the varsity squad,” Pankratz said. “Our goal is to work together and improve each time we are on the field. I really expect this team to make huge strides from the beginning to the end of the season.”