Last year’s Williams Bay softball team was loaded with seniors, with eight on the roster and all of them playing important roles for the group.
With such an exodus of talent from last year to this year, the team has a lot of work to do to find replacements.
“That’s on us to get those kids ready to replace the kids that we lose, on the coaching staff,” head coach Jeff Kuespert said. “So far this team has been very coachable. They’ve taken everything that we’ve been teaching them and putting it into practical application, and that’s what we have to do this year is make sure we’re ready and prepared every day.”
The team does bring back some players with experience, though.
Tori Pollak is the team’s lone senior, and she has been a regular in the Bay lineup for the past few seasons. Sophomore Austyn Hartwig played in most of the team’s games last season, and juniors Hannah Rabenhorst and Cassie Silverman saw a bit of varsity playtime as well.
That said, varsity experience is the exception, not the norm.
Perhaps last year’s biggest loss is the departure of Hannah Schmidt, the senior pitcher who soaked up the vast majority of the Bulldogs’ innings. With Schmidt gone, the Bay will need to find another pitcher or two to toe the rubber.
To help do that, Kuespert brought in a new assistant coach who’s a familiar face to the program: Emily Allen, who was one of the Bulldogs’ pitchers on the 2007 state championship team.
With the championship pedigree comes a level of gravitas to Allen’s lessons.
“I think it helps in respect in a sense that they might know that what I’m telling you does work. It does produce championships in the end,” Allen said. “It is achievable to go to state, even for a small school.”
While this year’s young and inexperienced squad may not be ready for a state title yet, the experience the team will gain this season could set them up for some big things in the future.