Softball standouts fit in with new team
By Holly Neumann
When the Manawa Legion Post 226 baseball team takes the field this summer, it doesn’t take spectators long to notice something’s different.
“A few years ago, we were looking for boys to play Legion baseball and contemplating not having a team when Katelyn Langman said, ‘I want to play,’” coach Dave Augustine said. “Since then, the offer has gone out to girls who would like to compete and take on the challenge.”
Skye Amador and Morgyn Zielke, standouts on Manawa’s softball team, are accepting that challenge this summer.
“I wasn’t going to play at first, but I thought it would be fun and be a challenge,” Amador said. “I thought it would help me with my softball.”
“I wasn’t going play either, but I felt like it was going to help me improve as a player,” she said.
Both girls admit there have been some challenges along the way.
Amador, who plays right field and second base for the baseball team, plays catcher and shortstop for softball.
“I have never played second base before,” she said. “There is a lot more that you have to do as far as covering the bases. Throwing the ball is different as well.”
Hitting has been Zielke’s biggest challenge this season.
“It’s much harder hit a little ball than the giant yellow one we hit for softball,” she said.
Augustine is quick to give credit to the girls for trying something out of their normal element.
“When I think about these girls who both play summer softball, one plays volleyball and their other responsibilities and they still want to compete, it is amazing to me,” he said. “I love it that they know what the challenges are and they face each practice and game with the courage to do what needs to be done to win.”
Amador and Zielke feel that their confidence is their biggest asset to the team and Augustine agreed.
“They don’t back down to dealing with the challenges,” he said. “Their mindset is to succeed and enjoy what they do.”
Zielke’s father, Todd, coaches Manawa’s softball team and said he has some concerns about the way the bat is swung differently in each sport.
“It’s the motion in baseball,” he said. “In softball, the pitch is more in an upward motion and baseball it is down.”
He smiles with pride when he talks about the fact they can play with the boys on almost the same level.
“They are 100-percent dedicated to making plays,” he said. “They won’t hold back.”
Amador’s mother, Tammy Williams, worried that her daughter would get hurt.
“It’s a harder, faster ball at the plate,” she said. “I sure am happy she went out. She is having a great time.”
Augustine said 15 years ago, he might have said it would be too difficult for the young woman to adjust to the game.
“In the last 10 years, I have realized that competitive attributes like what I see in Skye and Morgyn, and Katelyn Langman before them, is great for any team in whatever sport they choose to play,” he said. “In retrospect, I wished I would have realized 25 years ago because I know my daughter and many of the girls she played with would have been great competitors with the boys’ teams I coached.”
Both girls, along with their parents and Augustine, agreed the Legion teammates have been very accepting of them playing.
“They have all been so welcoming,” Zielke said.
“The reaction of the other teams is a little funny,” Amador said. “There is usually some snickering, but after that, it’s all good.”
Team member John Holtz believes the girls are a nice addition.
“I actually like having them here,” he said. “You always hear comments from the other dugouts, but I think they have been an asset. If they can play at the skill level that is required, it doesn’t matter if you are a boy or girl, as long as you can help the team.”
Holtz said he and Zielke are dating. When asked if there was any friendly competition between them on the field, he was quick to shake his head.
“That’s because I am better than you,” Zielke said as she headed out to the field.