Denfeld fastpitch’s upcoming season: is state in the picture?

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Denfeld fastpitch’s upcoming season: is state in the picture?

Mya Halvorson, Staff Reporter

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Last year, Denfeld’s fastpitch softball team was one game away from going to state. Can they make it this year? They hope so. With last year’s starting pitcher and catcher playing college softball, and some younger players added to the lineup, the team looks a lot different than it did a year ago.

“We should have gone to state…. We beat Hermantown 10-1 in the previous game, then we lost 4-3, so I thought we should have been in the state [tournament],” said Coach Dick Swanson. “We were 19-7, we were ranked seventh in the state. It was disappointing that we didn’t get there.”

The Hunters’ heartbreaking loss has only made them more motivated to advance to state this year. “[I hope] to make it back to the section final, and to hopefully beat whoever’s in the section final to go to state,” said junior first baseman Haley Larson.

As for their actual chance at making it back to the section final, Coach Swanson knows just how much the team wants to go to the state tournament, and how this season will differ. “…These kids are pretty hungry, and they were on that team last year that almost went,” said Swanson. “We can’t duplicate what we did last year, we were 19-7, but every year is different.”

With a younger team, the leadership role of upperclassmen is especially important. “We have a lot of kids that can lead by example,” said Coach Swanson. As one of the captains, senior Maddy Kessler said she hoped to encourage young players and show them that playing fastpitch softball is a learning experience.

This season will be one for developing the younger players’ skills, said many older players. “I hope that they learn some new skills, because I know there’s a lot of new girls that are just trying to learn new things, so I hope that they learn a lot from our captains,” said sophomore Gianna Torres, who plays shortstop and second base. Coach Swanson hopes to prepare younger players for the level of competition in high school fastpitch. “When you’re young, you’re too accepting of mistakes, and as you get older you can make fewer and fewer mistakes as you get to the varsity level,” said Swanson. “So we start that process when they’re young, and hopefully by the time they’re tenth-graders, they’re able to compete for jobs on varsity.”

As for this season, Maddy Kessler knows how different the team can look, even compared to just a year ago. “I know it’s going to be a lot different from last season, because it’s a younger team, but hopefully [this season will go] good.”

The general consensus amongst the team seems to be that the team’s chance at redemption lies on their strength in pitching. “We lost our pitcher and our catcher, and I hope that our pitching is good and we hold our own against some of these better teams,” said Gianna Torres. Coach Swanson agrees, “It will come down to our pitching. We have a few kids who haven’t pitched varsity before, and I think by tournament time they’re gonna be pretty good, but that’s a growing process, and we gotta learn, but we’re gonna take a few lumps early because our schedule’s hard early.”

Besides their on-field action, players agreed that the best way to support the team was by attending games. “We love when fans come and watch,” said Gianna Torres. “We usually don’t get a lot of fans, so fans would mean a lot.”

Denfeld fastpitch’s first home game will be at Wade Field #6 vs. Hermantown at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18.

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Denfeld fastpitch’s upcoming season: is state in the picture?