If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Please enter your email and we will send your username and password to you.
by Marlys Kruger
GLENWOOD CITY — With just one senior on the team healthy enough to play, the Glenwood City Hilltopper softball team will need their underclassmen to step up if they intend to win a third consecutive Dunn-St. Croix Conference title.
The Toppers won the title in 2019 and with no season in 2020 due to COVID-19, they won the conference title again in 2021 with a 13-1 record. After winning the regional title, they ended the season at 21-4 with a 14-9 loss in the sectional semi-final to Fall Creek.
Players gone from that team through graduation were the Dunn-St. Croix’s co-conference “Players of the Year” and All State players, catcher Delanie Fayerweather and pitcher Maddie Oehlke. Fayerweather was also the Division 4 Player of the Year. Unfortunately for the team, all conference shortstop Ryeah Oehlke transferred to Baldwin-Woodville this year.
Senior Kendall Schutz, another all conference player at second base last year, tore her ACL in basketball and is out for the season, leaving Morgan Johnson as the only senior on the team. Johnson was mostly the designated hitter and played some outfield and Schutz was expected to be the starting pitcher and was the only starter on both the 2019 and 2021 conference championship teams.
Head coach Matthew Schutz begins his 21st season leading the Toppers and will look for help from junior Alex Peterson who can play outfield and infield and should have one of the best bats for the team. Another junior, Aubrie Logghe played right field half of last year’s season and will compete for a position out there again.
Plenty of sophomores are working for starting positions including Libby Wagner, the starting first baseman last year and an honorable mention all conference player. She may be playing a different position this year, however. Michaela Blaser was the starting third baseman a year ago but may play at shortstop and is the backup catcher. Avery Rubenzer finished the season playing left field and will vie for a spot out there again. Sydney Grant played some outfield last year and was often a courtesy or pinch runner for the team. She is working to be the starting catcher for the Toppers this season. Madison Caress could have one of the better bats this season but coach Schutz needs to figure out where she may contribute best in the field. Maddie Klatt will take over the pitching duties and has worked hard on that in the off-season which will help since she didn’t expect to be in the circle much this year.
Rounding out the team are sophomores infielder Natelle McCarthy and infielder/outfielder Nikki Multhauf along with freshmen Isabel Davis (infield), Kiley Leduc (1B), Brooklyn Brite (pitcher), Morgan Blaser (pitcher), Jenna McCarthy (pitcher) and Sophia Steger (outfield).
Coach Schutz believes the strength of his team will be their effort and attitude.
“We have a big sophomore class that was a part of something special as freshmen and they want to keep that momentum and success going,” he said.
“We also have a lot of youth and if they want to play, they will need to be competitive with one another first,” he added.
Schutz thinks team weaknesses will be having a new catcher, pitcher, shortstop and second baseman this year. The team also struggled with their outfield last season and he hopes they can fill those positions with more athleticism than last year.
Goals for the team are to stay competitive and get better every day both playing the game and understanding it. Because his pitchers will not throw as hard as Maddie Oehlke did there will be less strikeouts and the ball will be put into play more often.
“We need to be ready to play defense and our returning athletes need to better their batting averages to make up for our three big hitters from last year,” he said.
Elk Mound and Mondovi appear to be the teams to beat in the conference this year according to Schutz, since they have experienced pitchers and many other athletes back from last year.
Schutz is excited to mention the team has a new assistant coach this season, Tracy Marback, who has played and coached at the college level. Hilltopper alumni Sarah Kaiser is helping out as a volunteer coach as well.
Seniors: Morgan Johnson, Kendall Schutz
Juniors: Aubree Logghe, Alex Peterson
Sophomores: Michaela Blaser, Madison Caress, Sydney Grant, Maddie Klatt, Natelle McCarthy, Nikki Multhauf, Avery Rubenzer, Libby Wagner
Freshmen: Morgan Blaser, Brooklyn Brite, Izzy Davis, Kiley Leduc, Jenna McCarthy, Sophia Steger