By Kelsie Hoitomt
GLENWOOD CITY – The Glenwood City softball team will be headed by a new coach this season as Pete Gaustad was hired for the position.
Gaustad resides in Glenwood City and has been a Middle School and High School Social Studies teacher for 15 years.
“My years of experience with softball are limited,” explained Gaustad. “I played some fast-pitch and slow-pitch along with baseball before, but have been umpiring the sport for about seven years at the varsity level.”
Gaustad took over as head coach after Matthew Schutz stepped down to assistant coach after overseeing the team for 14 years.
“I decided to take on the role of head coach because I know this program has been built to succeed by Coach Schutz,” said Gaustad. “His tireless effort for the last 14 years has helped shape our program and have it in a great position to succeed.”
Although the coach is new, the team itself is not necessarily due to the fact that there were no senior athletes on the roster in 2013.
This year there are five seniors, six juniors and an additional five sophomores that came out as freshmen last season who are returning to the team.
Looking to lead the team as a strong core group of girls with several years of softball experience are letter winners, Kelly Perkins, Bailey Britton, Kenzie Kruse, Mikaela Voeltz, Megan Samens, Nikki Gabbert, Taylor Brittain and sisters Hannah and Leslie Ludtke.
“Leslie is a great pitcher who can throw strikes pretty consistently and her communication with her sister is going to be key for us this year. Mikaela and Bailey will make us strong up the middle and Kelly will provide us with a needed pop at the bat,” explained Gaustad of his players.
The closeness of the group looks to be one of their biggest strengths, especially with the returning pitcher-catcher duo between the Ludtke girls.
“The Dunn-St. Croix Conference lost some stellar players this year and with all our players back, we should step up,” said Gaustad.
The Lady Hilltoppers finished 3-16 last season and their desire to improve is a top priority.
“Our non-statistical goal would be to have our team be higher in the conference standings and even contending for the championship, all while still having fun and enjoying the game,” Gaustad said. “Statistically however, I would like to limit our number of errors and have at least five hitters at or above .300 for the year.”
Despite the winter weather, the spring sports calendar is out and the Toppers are scheduled to play a game in Ellsworth on Tuesday, April 1 at 4:30 p.m. Their first conference game is set for April 8 in Boyceville at 5:00 p.m.
Seniors: Kenzie Kruse, Kelly Perkins, Becca Jensen, Bailey Britton, Haley Lewis
Juniors: Megan Samens, Hannah Ludtke, Leslie Ludtke, Nikki Gabbert, Mikaela Voeltz, Courtney Wilson
Sophomores: Taylor Brittain, Carlee Strong, Morgan Gedatus, Sam Holldorf, Ellen Lindquist, Winter McIntyre
Freshmen: Briana Barstad, Becca Moll, Brooke Wickman, Kenzie Kuehl, Bridgitte Weyer, Morgan Peterson, Natalie Gabbert, Josie Demar, Catherine Schurtz, Tia Carlson