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Strong numbers will aid Hilltoppers on softball field

GLENWOOD CITY — Second year head coach Pete Gaustad will once again have large numbers to fortify his Glenwood City girls’ softball team.

The Hilltoppers boast 29 members on the 2015 roster, many with previous experience and talent, that they hope will help them improve on last year’s 4-16 record which ended in a second round loss to Eau Claire Immanuel in the Division 4 playoffs.

Glenwood City said its goodbyes to five senior players last year including first team, all conference performer Kelly Perkins. The services of Kenzie Kruse, Becca Jensen, Bailey Britton and Haley Lewis were also lost to graduation.

“We lost two of our best contributors from last year – Kelly Perkins and Bailey Britton,” said Gaustad. “Kelly was our cleanup hitter and our first baseman and Bailey was our second baseman. Both were very valuable defensive players for us.”

Still, Gaustad has several returning senior starters and letterwinners highlighted by hurler Leslie Ludtke, catcher Hannah Ludtke, infielder/outfielder Makaela Voeltz, outfielder Megan Samens, and third baseman Nikki Gabbert.

In addition, juniors Carlee Strong (infield and pitcher), Winter McIntyre (pitcher and infield), and Taylor Britton (outfield) and sophomores Brooke Wickman (infield) and Natalie Gabbert (infield) all return to the fold.

Gaustad is also excited by the promise that sophomore Becca Moll and freshman Jenesa Klinger have shown.

The experience that this year’s squad brings to the softball diamond will be a definite plus according to Gaustad.

“We return the most players in the conference,” said Gaustad. “Leadership from the seniors will be key. They have to step up and challenge themselves and others.”

Gaustad feels that the team will have to also improve its mental focus if it hopes to improve.

“Our main weakness will be mental breakdowns during games.”

Gaustad would like to have three of his players hit over .400 this season and limit their errors and collapses during games.

“We need to be competitive and not have that one bad inning like we did last year,” stated the coach.

“If we can keep our heads straight we could be a contender for a conference championship.”

Gaustad feels that Elk Mound, Colfax, Boyceville and Pepin/Alma could all be in the chase for the 2015 Dunn-St. Croix title.

“Elk Mound will be tough,” Gaustad stated. “They return pitcher Dayna Kotecki who is one of the best in the area. Pepin/Alma lost a few good players but always seem to retool and Boyceville and Colfax each return some very good position players.”

He also sees Elmwood, with two solid pitchers, as a possible dark horse.

The Toppers opened the season with a 4-0 loss in Somerset last Thursday. Boyceville was in town yesterday with St. Croix Central playing here tomorrow. Glenwood City will end the week with road game in Colfax on Friday.

Glenwood City Softball Roster

Seniors: Megan Samens, Hannah Ludtke, Leslie Ludtke, Nikki Gabbert, Mikaela Voeltz, Cortlyn Wilson.

Juniors: Taylor Brittain, Carlee Strong, Morgan Gedatus, Sam Holldorf, Winter McIntyre.

Sophomores: Briana Barstad, Becca Moll, Brooke Wickman, Kenzie Kuehl, Bridgitte Weyer, Morgan Peterson, Natalie Gabbert, Josie Demar, Catherine Schurtz, Tia Carlson.

Freshmen: Jenesa Klinger, Emily Hill, Andi Jo Britton, Mykenzie Krueger, Kristine Sina, Cortney Lawson, Taylor Mortel, Jeong  Seo.