By LeAnn R. Ralph
ELK MOUND — Six players will be returning to the Elk Mound High School softball team this spring to help the team achieve their goal of winning conference and regional championships.
In 2017, the Elk Mound softball team had an overall record of 22-5 and a conference record of 17-0.
Elk Mound softball ultimately won the Dunn-St. Croix Championship last year.
From the 2017 team, Karie Jo Nigon was named second team all-area and first team all-state; Lauren Scharlau received honorable mention for all-district; Allison Lindquist was named second team all-state and second team all-area; Clare Hallum received honorable mention for all-district and was second team all-area.
Elk Mound softball coach Samantha Stelter, who is in her second season as head coach, sees many strengths in the returning players.
Clare Hallum (pitcher) “is our ace, and I expect her to be even more dominant than last season. I think we’re also going to see more from her offensively this season. She was first team all conference last year,” Stelter said.
Allison Lindquist (catcher) “is our leader, and she controls the defense and brings a lot of power on offense. I expect her to have another strong year both behind the plate and at the plate. She was first team all-conference last season and DSC Player of the Year,” she said.
Regarding Hailey Blaskowski (third base), “I think we’re going to see a lot more out of Hailey on offense and defense this season as her confidence grows,” Stelter said.
Madysen Borofka (second base) “does a great job defensively and can cover a lot of ground with her quickness. I anticipate her to bat leadoff again this season as she does a great job forcing pitchers to throw a lot of pitches each at bat. She was honorable mention all conference last season,” she said.
“With her length, Morgan (Radtke; right field) covers a lot of ground in the outfield, and I think we’re going to see her make some big plays in the gaps again this season,” Stelter said.
Sophie Cedarblade (center field) “brings speed to the outfield and at the plate. She was second team all conference last season,” she said.
Players who graduated in 2017 were Karie Jo Nigon (shortstop), Lauren Scharlau (first base), Kirstin Dutzle (left field), Emily Ausman, Baylee Hanson and Elizabeth Bauer.
“Karie Jo was our number two pitcher as well as our shortstop. She was one of our offensive leaders and will certainly be a tough position to fill this season,” Stelter said.
“Lauren had a great career as our first baseman and was a solid defender. Kirstin brought a lot of speed to the outfield as well as a strong arm. Filling both Lauren and Kirstin’s positions will be tough,” she said.
“The other girls, while they weren’t always on the field, certainly provided a lot of positive energy, and it’ll be fun to see who provides that energy this season,” Stelter said.
Stelter believes that seven newcomers have potential for the softball season at Elk Mound, including Crista Sweeney, Abigail Curry, who started in her freshman year and was out with an injury las season, Orianna Horel, Alyssa Lauer, Amber Gilbertson, Kayli Solberg and Marian Lee.
Strengths for the Elk Mound softball team will be both offense and defense.
“I think we are going to have a strong offense and the ability to run on the bases this season,” Stelter said.
“I also think we are going to be solid on the defensive end once players settle into their positions,” she said.
A lack of depth with pitchers might be a weakness for Elk Mound.
“One weak spot is probably going to be our lack of depth with pitchers, especially since we have a full 26 game schedule. However, Clare is ready to lead the way again this season, and our number two and number three pitchers will be more than capable of holding their own,” Stelter said.
Members of the Elk Mound softball team have identified conference and regional titles as their goals for this year.
“As a team, we’ve talked about where we want to be at the end of the season, and their goal is to take conference and be in a position to battle for the regional title again,” Stelter said.
“Another goal the girls have set is to develop strong team chemistry. How well the team can achieve that goal is going to be a critical deciding point on how successful we become this season,” she said.
Coach Stelter’s goal is to reduce errors.
“One goal I have for the team is to reduce the number of errors per game we have as a team,” she said.
“Last year, we averaged over two errors per game and had only two games without an error,” Stelter said.
“This season I’d like to get that number down below one and a half errors per game with more errorless games,” she said.
“Offensively, we hit .391 as a team last season, and I’ll be happy if we are in the .300 range again this season,” Stelter said.
While Coach Stelter believes Elk Mound has a “good shot” at another conference title this season, she also believes other teams in the conference will have a strong season too.
“I think Boyceville and Glenwood City are both going to be right in the mix as they both return pitchers who showed a lot of strength last season. I think Pepin, Durand and Colfax will fight to finish near the top of the conference as well,” Stelter said.
Seniors: Crista Sweeney, Allison Lindquist and Madysen Borofka.
Juniors: Alyssa Lauer, Morgan Radtke, Abby Curry and Amber Gilbertson.
Sophomores: Kayli Solberg, Orianna Horel, Clare Hallum, Hailey Blaskowski and Sophie Cedarblade.
Freshman: Marian Lee
In addition to Stelter as head coach, Darla Diermeier and Shelly Cedarblade serve as coaches as well.
McKenna Diermeier serves as manager.