What a difference a year makes.
The Weyauwega-Fremont softball team had plenty of experienced players on its 2013 roster and that experience helped the Indians win a Central Wisconsin 8 Conference championship with a 6-1 record.
That’s not the case this season, however, as coach Todd Breuer has to replace six starters, including a pair of first-team all-conference players in pitcher Kelsey Akey and shortstop Macey Schoenick.
Also gone from last year’s team are second-teamer Teal Tomaszewski (center field); and honorable mention players Anna Forslin (second base) and Mariah Hulbert (first base).
“I’d say this would be a rebuilding year,” Breuer said. “We’re replacing six starters, but at the same time, we have girls that have been playing for a while. They may not have a lot of varsity playing time, but they played during the summer and played a lot on JV.
“These aren’t girls that are new to the program,” he said. “We just have to trust the program and be confident that they’re going to be able to step in and fill the spots that we have to replace.”
Returning players include second-team catcher Karissa Akey, a sophomore; honorable mention third baseman Kori Looker, a senior; and Miranda Potratz, a junior who started in the outfield as a sophomore.
“I’m definitely going to rely on those three not only defensively, but to produce offensively,” Breuer said.
Probably the biggest hole on the team will be to fill the pitching shoes of Kelsey Akey, who posted a 6-1 record and a 2.23 ERA in CWC-8 games.
“Right now it’s Katie Ponto, a senior,” Breuer said. “If we played tomorrow, she’d be our starting pitcher. I’m looking to use Karissa to help her out. She’s just a natural athlete and does a lot of good things. She pitched in a couple of games last year, but her sister pitched just about every inning. Katie has the most experience. She pitched a lot of JV last year.”
Although the Indians rolled through the CWC-8 schedule last season with only one loss, Stevens Point Pacelli eliminated the Indians from the state tournament in a Division 3 regional final and ended up advancing to state for the third year in a row.
“It was a surprise how they came on strong at the end,” Breuer said. “It’s the coaching over there and the program. The girls know how to play ball and how to overcome adversity and they don’t commit errors. When you can get girls that know how to play and don’t commit errors, you can do a lot of things. That’s what hurt us, too many errors against them in the regional final.”
Breuer expects the Cardinals to be among the top teams this season, but they’ll face some solid competition.
“I think Shiocton is going to be tough and you have to look at Iola,” he said. “They have at least three if not four juniors that have been starting since they were freshmen. I’d pick those three to be at the top of the conference and I hope we can compete against them.”
The Indians are tentatively scheduled to open the season at 4:30 p.m. today (Thursday, March 27) with a nonconference game at Wautoma, but whether the game will go on was still up in the air as of March 25.
W-F won’t have to wait long to match up against Pacelli, as the teams are scheduled to play at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 3, at Stevens Point’s Zenoff Park.
“I’m looking for them to show me what they’ve got,” Breuer said. “Having all these spots open has created a lot of competition in practice. The attitude’s been great, the effort’s been great. These girls know that there are spots to be filled. The atmosphere has been great and it’s going to be that way for these next few games. There are going to be players out there trying to earn and keep their spots. If they don’t know that, they’re in trouble. We talk every day about how we don’t know who’s going to play where and how they have to go out there and earn it.”
Having an inexperienced team means the Indians are approaching practice in a different way this season.
“I’m not saying that we have to totally start over with the basics, we do that every year to begin with,” Breuer said. “It’s going to be a learning curve. We’re not going to be ready for game one like we were last year because we had all that experience coming back.
“It’s going to be four, five, six games before we figure out who we are, how good we’re going to be and who’s playing where,” he added. “I still haven’t figured out our lineup yet and our lineup’s going to change over the next three or four weeks. That’s what makes it exciting and that’s what makes coaching fun.”
Weyauwega-Fremont 2014 Softball Schedule
Thursday, March 27 – at Wautoma, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 3 – at Stevens Point Pacelli, 4:30 p.m.
Friday, April 4 – vs. Clintonville, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, April 7 – vs. Amherst, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 10 – at Shiocton, 4:30 p.m.
Friday, April 11 – at Manawa, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 12 – at Waupaca quadrangular, 9 a.m.
Monday, April 14 – vs. Iola-Scandinavia, 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 22 – vs. Wittenberg-Birnamwood, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 24 – at Bonduel, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 26 – Weyauwega-Fremont Invitational (W-F, Rosholt, Kewaskum, Wrightstown), 9:30 a.m.
Monday, April 28 – vs. Stevens Point Pacelli, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 1 – at Amherst, 4:30 p.m.
Friday, May 2 – at Mosinee, 5 p.m.
Monday, May 5 – vs. Shiocton, 4:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 6 – at Wild Rose, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 8 – at Iola-Scandinavia, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, May 12 – vs. Manawa, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 15 – at Wittenberg-Birnamwood, 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 17 – at Peshtigo Invitational, 9 a.m.
Monday, May 19 – vs. Bonduel, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 27 – vs. Wautoma, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 3 – vs. Stevens Point Pacelli, 4:30 p.m.
Monday, April 8 – vs. Wild Rose, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 10 – at Shiocton, 6 p.m.
Friday, April 11 – at Manawa, 6:15 p.m.
Monday, April 14 – vs. Iola-Scandinavia, 6:15 p.m.
Monday, April 21 – vs. Rosholt, 4:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 24 – at Bonduel, 6:15 p.m.
Monday, April 28 – at Stevens Point Pacelli, 4:30 p.m.
Friday, May 2 – at Mosinee, 5 p.m.
Monday, May 5 – vs. Shiocton, 6 p.m.
Thursday, May 8 – at Iola-Scandinavia, 6:15 p.m.
Monday, May 12 – vs. Manawa, 6:15 p.m.
Monday, May 19 – vs. Bonduel, 6:15 p.m.