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Lady Bulldogs return wealth of talent on diamond



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Sam Storms was dominant on the mound in Saturday's 10-2 victory over Big Foot. Mike Ramczyk.

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Claudia Wautlet will be a key run producer this spring. (click for larger version)
April 09, 2013 | 04:19 PM
WILLIAMS BAY — Four years ago, a young, talented phenom named Sam Storms joined the Williams Bay softball squad.

Multiple school records and a Division 1 college softball commitment later, Storms is a senior leader for a team that took second in the Trailways South Conference last season.

This spring, the student has become the teacher.

That's because the Bay welcomes another raw, young talent in freshman Taylor Scott, who open enrolled from the Delavan area. Storms has meshed well with Scott, who will take over catching duties vacated by all-district performer Leah Newell.

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The battery hook-up leads a crop of 12 returning players, including all-conference picks Claudia Wautlet and Molly Perkins. Bay coach Jeff Kuespert, now in his 14th season, is excited about his team's abilities.

"The girls are faster than I anticipated," he said. "They can steal and take extra bases. Our offense is pretty strong. Scott can handle the bat really, really well. We are fortunate to have four returning infielders."

Other key returners are Haley Shea, a junior shortstop, Jamie Sitter, a sophomore first baseman, sophomore Emmalyn Meyers and senior outfielder Alex Schingten.

Scott will take over leadoff duties left by graduate Alyssa Alheid. According to Kuespert, she is the fastest kid on the team and can hit from both sides of the plate.

Kuespert said key newcomers will include freshman Erin Lippert and freshman Sabryn DeNotto. Both could see time in the outfield.

Defensively, Storms will be the workhorse on the hill, but sophomore Sami Sutter could see some innings, Kuespert said. With 17 games scheduled in April, Kuespert hopes Sutter can eat some innings on the mound.

Storms, who will play Division 1 college softball at St. Peters in New Jersey, was a first team all-conference selection last season. The team's leading hitter, Kuespert said her game has improved.

"Sam looks great and is more relaxed with her college stuff out of the way," Kuespert said. "She looks really good on the mound and is teaching the younger kids. She has had a lot of higher-level coaching and is using her knowledge in a constructive way."

Kuespert said the offense is the team's strength, but the mental aspect could use some work.

"We have 15 gifted kids physically," he said. "But they need to grasp the ups and downs of the game. They must learn how to know where to be and when. It's not easy."

After the departure of longtime assistant Dan Truttschel, former Beloit Turner assistant Becky Hessenhauer will join Kuespert in the dugout.

"I called her immediately," Kuespert said. "She was a head J.V. coach and an assistant varsity coach."

Like every year, Kuespert hopes his squad can win conference. But with the addition of Horicon this spring, the Trailways South will be deep. Kuespert said Deerfield, Horicon and the Bay should contend for the conference crown.

"We have all the physical tools," he said. "The biggest thing is how we respond mentally."

Early returns

The Lady Bulldogs beat up on neighboring Big Foot Saturday for a 10-2 victory.

Clinging to a 4-1 lead in the top of the seventh inning, the visiting Bulldogs erupted for six runs to put the game away.

Storms earned the win, going seven innings and striking out eight. She allowed four hits and walked two.

At the plate, Storms was 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a triple. Wautlet added two hits.

Meyers and Shea added a hit apiece.

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