In 2016, the Badger softball team had a very tough season, going 0-14 in Southern Lakes Conference play. The next year, they improved to a 4-10 record.
In 2018, the Badgers still had a 4-10 record, but with four conference losses by three runs or fewer, they were just a couple of lucky breaks away from making another big jump.
Last season’s success came in spite of the fact that the team featured plenty of young players, with six freshmen and only two seniors. This season, with those players having an extra year of experience under their belt, the expectations are a bit higher.
“We didn’t really lose a lot of players, so it’s kind of like the same team. It’s easier to build on that,” senior Madison Hunt said.
After losing so few players, the more experienced Badgers will have some tough competition for playing time at nearly every position. But the girls want to be sure things don’t get personal and hurt the team culture.
“We want to stick together the whole season. A lot of us play the same position, so we don’t want to get mad at each other because they’re playing over us; we’re just all going to encourage each other,” senior Kayla Kerns said.
That said, with many of the girls playing on the same teams in the summer and fall, the group is very close, which should serve as an asset throughout the year.
“We’ve really meshed together as a team; I’m really excited to see what we can accomplish,” senior Seneca Peterson said.
In the tough Southern Lakes Conference, while a conference championship isn’t an impossible task for the Badgers, it would be a surprising outcome for the season. With that in mind, the team has kept its goals more attainable, hoping to finish with a record above .500 and continue to improve throughout the year.
As part of an effort to better correct mistakes, the Badger players have been keeping journals, updating them before and after practice to try to set goals of what to improve on each day and taking stock of whether they did or did not accomplish those tasks.
By writing these down, the girls say the goals and accomplishments feel more concrete.
“I think last year we had goals, but this year we’re way more goal oriented, holding ourselves more accountable,” Hunt said.