ELK MOUND — With seven returning starters to a team that finished 15-8 overall and 13-3 in conference play for second place a year ago, second year Elk Mound softball coach Dylan Pronschinske expects his team to have a solid year.
“We return all of our pitching from last year as well as the heart of our lineup offensively,” Pronschinske said. “Team speed and strength will be our biggest strengths this season. But we will have to replace two All Conference players, Makenna Borofka and Kaity Johnson from our infield. We played from behind in many games last season so starting games strong will be a huge key to our success this year,” he added.
Players around the league may wonder if Mounder pitcher Dayna Kotecki is ever going to graduate. Kotecki starts her fourth year on the mound after going 14-6 for the team with a 4.12 earned run average a year ago. She struck out 100 batters while walking just 41, but was a force on the other side of the plate as well with a .361 batting average and 24 RBIs. Fellow senior Lexi DeLong returns after batting .358 a year ago and knocking in 21 runs, along with senior outfielder Elizabeth Schreiber who batted .388 with 27 RBIs. Another senior, Morgan Polden is also back after patrolling the outfield last year.
Other players back are juniors Morgan McDougall, a catcher and infielder who knocked in 11 runs as a sophomore, and Abbey Olson, a pitcher and infielder who batted .353 with 15 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. Sophomore Emily Ausman saw valuable playing time as a freshman, bringing in 13 runners and will fill an infield position.
Players looking to fill the varsity include senior outfielders Brianna Edington and Cassie Huffman, junior outfielder Jade Sorenson, sophomores first baseman Lauren Scharlau and infielder/pitcher Karie Jo Nigon, and freshmen outfielder/pitcher Tamara Huffman and catcher Allison Lindquist.
“I believe the teams that return starting pitchers from last season will be the teams at the top of the conference,” Pronschinske said. “Pepin-Alma, Colfax, Glenwood City and ourselves all return pitchers and a handful of position players from last season. I see the conference race coming down to the last couple of weeks of conference games,” he concluded.
Rounding out the squad are juniors Inga Fornal, Krystal Nigon and Hannah Brunner, sophomores Baylee Hanson, Elizabeth Bauer and Kirstin Dutzle along with freshmen Erin DeLong, Carli Bilse, Sira Shepard, Madyson Borofka, Taylor Nyren and Crista Sweeney.
Elk Mound is expected to begin their season with a home game April 7 against Plum City.