Softball team opens with games at home

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 4/05/00.

Softball practice The Paynesville Bulldogs softball team opens their season this week with home games against Kimball and BDRSH. The Bulldogs played Kimball last night, and will host BDRSH on Friday.

New head coach Tim Woehler said the Bulldogs, who were winless a year ago, have good chances for victory in their first two match-ups.

The softball team returns seven varsity players from a year ago. Seniors on the team this year are Tiff Haag, Tricia Hemmesch, Kelly Loesch, Jessi Louis, Rachel Miller, and Kelsey Moser. Juniors are Crystal Humbert and Mel Veldkamp, who played with the varsity a year ago. Sophomores are Jenny Habben, Kelli Heinen, and Lisa Hemingson.

New head coach Tim Woehler watches Jessi Louis deliver a pitch during preseason practice.

So far, Woehler, who spent a year as the seventh grade coach and two years as the junior varsity coach before taking the varsity reins this year, was happy with the team's hitting. A year ago the team hit for a mere .122 average and scored 33 runs in 16 games. In a scrimmage against Eden Valley-Watkins last week, The Bulldogs' strength was their hitting, according to Woehler. He was pleased that the team was aggressive at the plate, ready to swing the bat.

What the team needs to do, he added, is cut down on its mental mistakes. "We played so tight we were afraid to make mistakes," he said, of the scrimmage. Last year, the Bulldogs committed 73 errors in 16 games.

The West Central Conference North is strong once again. Woehler considered Litchfield, which returns pitcher Carin Rambow, as the preseason conference favorite. The other top teams in the conference all lost their top pitcher.

"We're going to go out and play hard and do the best we can," said Woehler of his expectations for the season. "As far as winning games, I don't know what to expect."

"Hopefully," he added, "we'll progress through the year and we'll see what happens."

The Bulldogs will rely on Loesch and Louis to pitch the bulk of the innings this year. "A lot of the burden is going to be on their shoulders because a lot of our game is pitching," Woehler said.

A number of players have changed positions this spring. Woehler said the players are still settling into their roles on the team.

In addition to the 11 players on varsity, the junior varsity team has 19 players. Woehler said he still might need to bring another player up from the junior varsity.

The new junior varsity coach this year is Dawn Knoll. Carol Smith is the seventh grade coach, and Laurie Nepsund the eighth grade coach.

Woehler said softball needs to increase its number of participants. He plans to run a summer program through community education for fourth, fifth, and sixth graders on Wednesday nights.

Softball has switched to three classes this year, with Paynesville in Class 2A. District 20 includes ACGC, Annandale, Howard Lake-Waverly, Kimball, New London-Spicer, Paynesville, and St. Michael-Albertville.

The Bulldogs host BDRSH on Friday. The varsity and the junior varsity have switched fields for home games this year. The varsity will play on the east field this year, next to the Chladek Addition. The junior varsity will play on the west field, closer to the high school.

Next Tuesday, April 11, the Bulldogs start their conference schedule with a game at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle.

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