There’s still almost a foot of snow on the ground in Iola, but the Iola-Scandinavia softball team’s season is already in full swing.
The Thunderbirds are in Florida this week on the team’s spring training trip at Disney World. During the week, the T-Birds will practice, scrimmage and play games against teams from New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
I-S made it to the sectional semifinals last year and dropped a 5-0 decision to eventual Division 3 state champion Peshtigo. The T-Birds were 16-8 overall and placed fourth in the Central Wisconsin 8 Conference with an 8-6 mark.
Although the T-Birds lost right fielder Jenna Baldwin, shortstop Leah Cady, first team all-conference center fielder Kendall Erickson and first baseman Taylor Lodewegen to graduation, there is plenty of experience back for coach Tom Anderson, heading into his 20th season.
“We are returning six players who saw a significant amount of playing time for us last year at the varsity level,” he said. “They include seniors Mary Marx (catcher), Morgan Oppor (pitcher) and Teresa Sprangers (third base) and juniors Amanda Aanstad (outfield), Elle Maus (left field) and Whitney Tomczak (second base). Oppor and Marx earned first and second team all-conference honors, respectively, as juniors.
“We have several other players battling for the remaining varsity positions, which include junior, Britteny Wandel and sophomores Amanda Aasen, Emily Ambrosius, Hannah Bonikowske, Kiara Boutwell, Natasha Buster, Payton Erickson, Denisha Erno, Katie McNamara and Danielle Schmidt,” Anderson said.
Five freshmen – Kjersti Aasen, Sophie Erdmann, Aimee Geriba, Mariah Oppor and Karina Welch – round out the roster.
“Having our returning all-conference pitcher Morgan Oppor and catcher Mary Marx will give us a good starting point,” Anderson said. “We need to plug in the remaining players in the proper positions to give us the best opportunity to compete defensively. On offense, Oppor and Marx did well for us, but we need improvement from the remaining players. Our goal is to play hard, learn as we go and compete. We’ll see what happens regarding the left and right column.”
Anderson expects Weyauwega-Fremont to contend for a CWC-8 championship this season, with Amherst and defending champion Stevens Point Pacelli in the mix.
“Weyauwega-Fremont should be considered the conference favorites with a host of players retuning after earning all-conference recognition last season,” he said. “Pacelli and Amherst will give Weyauwega-Fremont a battle for the conference championship. Wittenberg-Birnamwood will continue to field a solid team and should make some noise in the conference race, while Manawa and Bonduel will continue to get better with the development of their younger players.”
Weyauwega-Fremont returns first team senior pitcher Kayla Bastar and her battery partner, senior catcher Kaitlyn Akey. Senior infielders Kate Wieters and Amy Samson return after receiving second team and honorable mention honors, respectively. Sophomore shortstop Macey Schoenick also returns after receiving honorable mention honors.
Amherst graduated first teamers Lindsey Makuski and Marissa Trzebiatowski, but return second team senior pitcher Lindsay Helbach and honorable mention player Ashlee Trzebiatowski. Sophomore pitcher Jessica Torrey showed promise and should give Helbach a battle in the circle.
Bonduel has four players returning that received all-conference recognition. Junior shortstop Morgan Maule made the second team, while senior Katie Woldt (second base) and sophomores Abby Reinke (center field) Karisa Pedersen (first base/pitcher) received honorable mention.
Manawa graduated second team center fielder Jackie Thompson, but return junior pitcher Krista Braun and sophomore pitcher Ansley Block.
Pacelli lost first team catcher Sarah Van Order, second team outfielder Alyssa Vogt and honorable mention infielder Kathryn Van Order and return first team senior pitcher Laura Raflik, second team senior outfielder Megan Shulfer and honorable mention sophomore infielder Anna Lensmire.
Shiocton graduated second team outfielder Roselynn Riehl and return honorable mention infielder senior Nikki Tarlton.
Wittenberg-Birnamwood lost five players who received all-conference recognition, including first team shortstop Ashley Koeller and first team catcher Magen Malueg.
If the weather cooperates, the T-Birds will open the Wisconsin part of their schedule with varsity and junior varsity games against Weyauwega-Fremont.
The varsity team will host the Indians Tuesday, April 5, while the JV team will travel to Weyauwega. The varsity team will also host Bonduel Thursday, April 7. These games are scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.
For up-to-date varsity and JV schedules, visit the softball webpage on the Iola-Scandinavia High School website, www.iola.k12.wi.us/hs/softball.cfm.
Softball Hotline: For up-to-date information on games throughout the season, call the I-S Softball Hotline, 715-445-2411, ext. 500. Cancellation of games, especially due to the weather, will be announced immediately on the hotline and on WDUX.
Central Wisconsin Conference scores and standings for baseball and softball can be found at www.iola.k12.wi.us/hs/cwcbaseballsoftball.cfm.