PREP SOFTBALL PREVIEWS: Area softball teams have conference titles in sight
By: Ken Olson, Superior Telegram
Superior High School softball coach Amy Zembo is hoping that seven returning starters is the answer to help improve a team that finished 10-12 overall last year and 2-6 in the Lake Superior Conference.
Although the Spartans lost Cassy O’Neill, a second-team all-conference pick from last year’s team, they return Taylor Thompson (P/DP), Emily Hansen (SS) and Jessica Lindstrom (3B), who were honorable mention selections, along with Taylor Johnson (C), Kari Miller (CF), Alison Wainionpaa (P/OF) and Kaitlyn Mergen (1B). The only positions currently up for grabs are second base and an outfield spot.
Two other strengths for the Spartans should be a stronger pitching staff with Thompson and Wainionpaa both having another year of experience, and their team defense, which returns all but a second basemen.
One thing that concerns Zembo is getting key hits on offense.
“We’re going to continue working on improving our offense,” Zembo said. “Once we get the bats going, I expect us to compete with every team in the conference, as well as everybody on our schedule.”
The Spartans finished in fifth place in the LSC last year and Zembo sees Hermantown, Duluth Central and Cloquet, the teams to beat.
“Hermantown once again has dominating pitching and a lot of returning players,” Zembo said. “Central has a deadly pitching combination of Hendrickson and Logergren and Cloquet has five players that were all-conference last season.”
Superior opened its season with a 7-5 win Friday at Esko.
Taylor Thompson and Alison Wainionpaa pitched for the Spartans, allowing three hits with 10 strikeouts and four walks.
Offensively for Superior, Jessica Lindstrom doubled and scored twice; Ashley Gronlund singled and had two RBIs; Tailor Schuster had a hit and RBI; and Savannah Oak and Kaitlyn Mergen each singled.
SHS led the JV game 20-0 when the called due to darkness in the second inning.
Remaining members of the SHS varsity roster are Ari Jago, Courtney Oak, Rachal Fregin, Shannon Johnstad, Taylor Nelson and Alex Ledin.
SPARTAN SPIN: Superior lost to Chippewa Falls in the regional finals last year. … Zembo had an overall record of 108-85 in 11 season as head coach at SHS. … Superior’s last LSC championship came during the 2004 season and its last state tournament appearance was 1993. … Assistant coaches this year are John Seifert, Greg Campbell, Alayna Moe and Brody Bakken. The team manager is Helena Semborski. … The team trainer is Mike Gogolin.
Superior High School Softball
3 Taylor Johnson C 11
4 Taylor Thompson P 12
5 Kari Miller, CF 11
7 Kaitlyn Mergen 1B 12
8 Ari Jago C/2B 10
10 Courtney Oak OF/P 11
11 Ashley Gronlund OF 11
12 Alison Wainionpaa P/OF 11
13 Rachal Fregin OF/1B 10
14 Savannah Oak IF/OF 11
21 Jessica Lindstrom 3B 10
23 Emily Hansen SS 10
24 Shannon Johnstad P/OF 10
33 Taylor Nelson OF 10
34 Alex Ledin OF 12
Superior High School JV
1 Gabby Gidley C 9
2 Powell 2B 9
6 Harmony Clarke 2B 10
9 Morgan Leinon, SS 10
10 Courtney Oak P/OF 11
11 Ashley Gronlund OF 11
13 Rachal Fregin 1B 10
14 Savannah Oak 3B/OF 11
15 Haley Siers OF 10
16 Nicole Koenen IF 9
17 Morgan Gramstrup OF 10
18 Marylynne Leadstrom IF 9
19 Katie Heinen P 9
22 Jillian Radtke IF/OF 9
25 Tailor Schuster 3B 9
24 Shannon Johnstad P 10
31 Britta Bergstrom OF 9
32 Sydney Johnson P/1B 9
33 Taylor Nelson OF 10
Superior High School
2012 Softball Schedule
Fri., April 13 at Esko (7-5)
Thur., April 26 at Hermantown, 4:30 p.m.
Fri., April 27 at E.C. Mem. (2), 4 p.m.
Tue., May 1 vs. Proctor, 4:30 p.m.
Thur., May 3 at Duluth East, 4:30 p.m.
Sat., May 5 at Becker Invite (3), 10 a.m.
Tue., May 8 at Cloquet, 4:30 p.m.
Thur., May 10 vs. Marshall, 4:30 p.m.
Fri., May 11 at Hibbing Tourn, 4 p.m.
Mon., May 14 vs. Gr. Rapids (2), 4 p.m.
Tue., May 15 vs. Denfeld, 4:30 p.m.
Thur., May 17 at Northwestern, 5 p.m.
Sat., May 19 at Bloomer (2), 9:30 a.m.
Mon., May 21 vs. Grantsburg, 5 p.m.
Tue., May 22 vs. Ashland (2), 4 p.m.
Tue., May 29 WIAA Regional Semi
Thur., May 31 WIAA Regional Final
Mon., June 4 WIAA Sectional Semi
Thur., June 7 WIAA Sectional at C.F.
June 14-16 at Madison
Solon Springs Eagles
The Solon Springs softball team had only 11 players to fill its roster in 2011, but nearly all of those girls are back this year, along with five freshmen expected to give the team a boost.
The Eagles finished with a 3-6 record in the Indianhead Conference last season and a 6-9 overall record. Solon Springs was fifth in the Indianhead Conference standings and ended its season with a loss to Northwood in the regional semifinals.
Vanessa Zeman is the only senior returning for the Eagles. She was named to the Indianhead All-Conference team last season as a pitcher and a short stop.
Solon Springs also returns three juniors, including Valerie Garay, who was all-conference honorable mention last year as a pitcher and first baseman last season.
Dale Rajala, beginning his fourth season as head coach of the Eagles, looks for pitching to be a strong point for Solon Springs with the combined experience of Zeman and Garay.
“We will be tough if we don’t beat ourselves,” Rajala said.
Solon Springs also has five freshmen and five sophomores on this year’s team, and many of those younger players will compete to fill starting roles. Freshmen Brianna Larson and Anna Jondreau will play center field and left field, respectively; junior Hannah Hedberg and sophomore Ashley Johnson will vie for the remaining outfield position.
In the infield. Junior Brittany Armstrong and sophomores Tylor Kruse and Rachel Grubbe are projected starters. Sophomore Alicia Jenson will spend time at short stop and catcher, and Shayla Bornholdt will split her time between catcher and outfielder.
Other players expected to contribute for the Eagles this year are freshmen Kahley Kallberg and Courtney Banks, both outfielders.
With so many young players, a potential weakness for Solon Springs this year could be defensive breakdowns.
“We have to play solid fundamental defense to be competitive,” Rajala said. The Eagles will struggle if they give up big innings defensively.
Within the Indianhead Conference, Rajala expects Hurley, Drummond and Ironwood to be the top teams. All three are very athletic, Rajala said, and return veteran leadership.
EAGLES EXTRAS: Solon Springs claimed its last regional championship in 2006, and the Eagles are still looking for their first trip to state. … Rajala’s assistant coach is Katie Johnson and his managers are Karly Sutherland and Phoenix Thomas.
2 Anna Jondreau OF Fr.
3 Brittney Armstrong IF Jr.
4 Hannah Hedberg OF Jr.
5 Brianna Larson IF/OF Fr.
7 Alicia Jensen C/IF/P So.
8 Ashley Johnson OF So.
10 Vanessa Zeman P/IF Sr.
11 Courtney Banks OF Fr.
12 Valerie Garay P/IF Jr.
14 Tylor Kruse IF So.
15 Rachel Grubbe IF So.
16 Shayla Bornholdt OF So.
20 Caitlyn Armstrong OF Fr.
21 Kahley Kallberg OF Fr.
Solon Springs High School
2012 Softball Schedule
Tue., April 3 vs. Shell Lake
Thur., April 5 at Butternut
Thur., April 12 at Hurley, ppd
Mon., April 16 vs. Mellen,ppd, rain
Tue., April 17 vs. Northwood, 4:30 p.m.
Thur., April 19 at Drummond, 4:30 p.m.
Mon., April 23 at Ironwood (2), 4:30 p.m.
Thur., April 26 at Washburn, 4:30 p.m.
Mon., April 30 home vs. Butternut, 4:30 p.m.
Mon., May 7 vs. Hurley (2), 4:30 p.m.
Tue., May 8 vs. Mellen, 4:30 p.m.
Thur., May 10 at Mellen, 4:30 p.m.
Mon., May 14 vs. Drummond, 4:30 p.m.
Mon., May 21 vs. Washburn, 4:30 p.m.
After advancing to the sectional finals last year, the Northwood Evergreens are hoping to find success again in 2012, but they’ll have to do it with some new faces on the field.
“We have young girls in some new positions, but they are working hard and are really showing what they are capable of,” said Beth Block, Northwood head coach.
Inexperience is the major obstacle in the way of Northwood this season, Block said. Northwood has three freshmen and one sophomore in its starting lineup. Freshmen TeLaura Harings and McKayla Waggoner will both play in the infield, while sophomore Sarah Olson will play left field and Hannah Henson will play right field.
But Northwood also has some veteran players on the team this year, returning two Central Lakeland All-Conference players to lead a group of five upperclassmen in the starting rotation.
“We return our pitcher-catcher duo, who were also last year’s top hitters,” Block said.
Northwood’s pitcher, Teagen Harings, threw every game for the Evergreens last season. She ended the year with a 2.9 ERA and led the team at the plate with a .516 batting average.
Lisa Featherly, back at catcher, had 23 RBIs and a .415 batting average last year before suffering a broken leg late in the season. Both she and Teagen Harings were All-Conference selections.
Also returning for Northwood are senior Nicole Block, at first base, and junior Molly Linden, center field. Senior Allison Fouks is also joining the Evergreen infield this year.
Northwood finished 13-5 overall last year and 6-2 in the Central Lakeland Conference to take second in the standings. Missing from the 2011 team are All-Conference players Annie and Ashley Block, and Sara Radzak and Marisa Blegen.
The Evergreens won the Central Lakeland Conference title in 2010, but this year Northwood will have to work hard to compete in the conference.
“The conference will be tight this year,” Beth Block said. “Shell Lake, Cameron, and Turtle Lake-Clayton will all be tough opponents.”
The Evergreens opened their season on April 10 with a 19-9 loss to Luck-Frederic. Block said it wasn’t the opener the team had hoped for, as errors and mental mistakes took a toll early.
Northwood then rebounded Thursday with its first conference game of the season. The Evergreens defeated Clear Lake 10-1 behind a strong pitching performance by Teagen Harings. Harings gave up three hits while walking two and striking out nine in the winning effort.
At the plate, Waggoner went 2-for-2 with a pair of walks, while Linden went 2-for-3 with a triple and two walks. Seniors Featherly and Harings contributed doubles, with Featherly hitting two doubles and Harings hitting one.
“The girls played very well tonight,” Block said.
Teagen Harings P Sr.
Lisa Featherly C Sr.
Nicole Block 1B Sr.
Allison Fouks 2B Sr.
TeLaura Harings 3B Fr.
McKayla Waggoner SS Fr.
Sarah Olson LF So.
Molly Linden CF Jr.
Hannah Henson RF Fr.
Northwood High School
Tue., April 3 vs. Turtle Lake, ppd
Tue., April 10 vs. Luck/Frederic
Thur., April 12 at Clear Lake
Fri., April 13 vs. Spooner
Tue., April 17 at Solon Springs
Thur., April 19 at Shell Lake, 5 p.m.
Tue., April 24 vs. Cameron, 5 p.m.
Fri., April 27 vs. Drummond, 5 p.m.
Mon., April 30 at Turtle Lake (2), 4 p.m.
Tue., May 1 vs. Washburn, 5 p.m.
Thur., May 3 vs. Clear Lake, 5 p.m.
Thur., May 10 vs. Shell Lake, 5 p.m.
Fri., May 11 at Grantsburg, 5 p.m.
Tue., May 15 at Mellen, 5 p.m.
Thur., May 17 at Cameron, 5 p.m.
Tue., May 22 vs. Hayward, 5 p.m.
Northwestern softball coach Scott Janigo sees his Tiger softball team once again battling for the Heart O’ North Conference championship. After all, he does return six key players from a team that finished second last year with records of 10-11 overall and 9-5 in the HON.
Key players returning include Tiana Arseneau (all-conference P/3B); Sarah Miller (all-conference 2B); Aliex Friend (P/3B); Alie Larson (C); Alex Bodendorfer (OF); and Shelby Schultz (P).
Rounding out the starting lineup are Haley Eller (1B); freshman Madeline Spangenberg (SS); and CJ Kahl, Gwen LaPole and Karaline Green (OF).
“We lost some key players, but we have a cohesive group back and should be competing for the HON conference championship,” Janigo said. “Bloomer has strong pitching and will battle for the top spot in the HON. The rest of the league is up in the air. The HON will be very competitive this year.”
Lost through graduation are Kelcee Janigo (C), Liz Urbaniak (P/3B), Amber Eller (OF/2B) and Kristen Kelly (OF). Janigo, Urbaniak and Eller were all-conference players last year as well as members of the Superior Telegram All-Area Team.
Janigo is beginning his third year as head coach at Northwestern with an overall record of 43-26.
The Tigers 2-1 on the season with wins of 11-1 over Proctor and 5-3 over Ashland, and a 9-1 loss to Rice Lake.
TIGER TALES: Northwestern defeated Hayward 9-7 and lost to Ashland 6-3 in last year’s WIAA tournament. … The Tigers last won the HON title in 2007 and their last state tournament was when they won the state championship in 1981. … Janigo’s assistant coaches are Rich Windt and Jeff Spangenberg (volunteer assistant), The team manager is Wesley Clark.
Northwestern Tiger Softball Roster
3 Tiana Arseneau SS/P 11
5 Emmalee Cornell P/3B 11
6 Shelby Schultz 1B/3B/P 12
7 MaKenna Sadenwasser OF 10
8 Sarah Miller 2B 12
9 Aliex Friend P/3B 11
10 CJ Kahl OF 11
13 Alex Bodendorfer 2nd 11
14 Alie Larson C/1B 11
16 Gwen LaPole SS 11
18 Julia Collins OF 10
19 Melissa Walsh OF 10
24 Haley Eller C 10
33 Abby Schulz OF 12
34 Morgan Runions OF 11
37 Molly Lattery OF 10
Desiree Johnson n/a 11
Ane Santisteban n/a 10
Carly Moreland n/a 10
Madeline Spangenberg n/a 9
Karaline Green n/a 9
Kyra Kreft n/a 9
Sara Garland n/a 9
Rebecca Wester n/a 9
Abby Schultz n/a 9
Northwestern High School
2012 Softball Schedule
Thur., April 5 vs. Proctor (W 11-5)
Thur., April 12 at Rice Lake (L 9-1)
Sat., April 14 vs. Ashland (W 5-3)
Tue., April 17 vs. Hayward
Tue., April 23 at Cumberland
Thur., April 26 at Bloomer
Sat., April 28 at Chetek (2), 11 a.m.
Tue., May 1 vs. Spooner, 5 p.m.
Thur., May 3 vs. Ladysmith (2), 4 p.m.
Sat., May 5 vs. Barron (2), 11 a.m.
Tue., May 8 at Hayward, 5 p.m.
Thur., May 10 vs. Cumberland, 5 p.m.
Mon., May 14 vs. Bloomer, 5 p.m.
Tue., May 15 at Spooner, 5 p.m.
Thurs., May 17 at Superior, 5 p.m.
Sat., May 19 vs. East, Ash.,, 10 a.m.
Tue., May 22 at Cheq., 4:45 p.m.