Speed is key for Shawano softball team this season

Hawks scheduled to open season next week
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By Morgan Rode sports@newmedia-wi.com


Leader file photo Shawano’s Kendra Kristof attempts to lay down a bunt during the team’s playoff game against Luxemburg-Casco last season. Kristof will play in the outfield for the Hawks this spring.

With a change in approach, the Shawano Community High School softball team is hoping to have another strong season on the diamond.

After graduating all-conference first-team selections Brianna Zook and Brandi Gueths and second-teamer Kristina Wynos, the Hawks lost a good deal of power. So instead of relying on a few players to knock in runs, the team hopes its speed can lead to success.

“We lost a lot of thump in the lineup but we are faster than we have been in a long time,” coach Brian Johnson said. “We are going to have to use our speed on the bases.”

Shawano finished 10-9 overall a season ago, posting an 8-6 in Bay Conference play. The Hawks advanced to the regional finals before falling to West De Pere.

The team’s lone returning all-conference selection is junior Gracyn Habeck, who made the second team as an infielder.

Habeck will serve as Shawano’s starting first baseman and be a source of production where ever she bats in the lineup.

“For this coming season I am going to work my hardest to make sure that everyone is on the same page on and off the field,” Habeck said. “I plan to lead the team by keeping them all focused to make sure we get things done and get them done precisely. Just keeping my team focused is going to be my main tactic to leading the team. We need to stay focused on our future and what is going to come.”

Shortstop Bayleigh Laabs and outfielder Kate Hoffman will serve as senior leaders for Shawano, which also returns juniors Jewel Waupekenay and Macie Herm and sophomores Taylor Johnson and Kendra Kristof — each of those players, plus Habeck, started last year.

This season, coach Johnson expects Waupekenay to play second base and Herm at catcher after playing the outfield a season ago. Taylor Johnson serves as the team’s top pitcher, while Kendra Kristof will fill another outfield position.

Seniors Elizabeth Esch and Emilee Bastar also return varsity experience for the Hawks. Esch can play a number of positions, while Bastar provides the team another arm from the pitching rubber.

“This year as a senior, I think that to get the outcomes we want, we have to be positive and play with everything we got,” Laabs said. “We lost a lot of big hitters last year so coming into this year we really need to find people to fill their spots in the lineup.

“As a leader I try to teach the younger girls as much as I know to help improve their skills. I know how it feels to be nervous to play that first game of the season on varsity so I try and calm their nerves as much as possible. I’m also super excited to be playing with the girls who are on my team this year, and can’t wait to see where this season takes us.”

Weather permitting, the Hawks are scheduled to open the season hosting Freedom on Thursday.

Shawano is in a Division 2 regional along with Clintonville, Denmark, Freedom, Luxemburg-Casco, Marinette, Notre Dame, Oconto Falls, Seymour and Two Rivers. The state tournament is scheduled to run from June 6-8 at Goodman Diamond in Madison.

Clintonville

Clintonville is coming off a 3-17 year a season ago and looking to build an identity under the coaching of Danalore Chaney and Michelle Krueger.

The Truckers do not have any returning all-conference selections, but do bring back seven players with starting experience.

Seniors Sasha Carrillo and Tarah Malotky will serve as leaders from their third base and right field positions.

Juniors Abby King (first, second base), Tessa Doornink (catcher), Hannah Baird (pitcher), Bailey Mares (left field, shortstop) and Mercede Lorge (second base, shortstop) also return for Clintonville.

“There has been a lot of excitement surrounding our players and coaches this year,” Chaney said. “We are starting the season with a completely brand new coaching staff, but each coach brings with them a lot of experience.

“Right now our challenges all seem to revolve around numbers,” Chaney continued. “We are going to try to field two teams for JV and varsity games but we won’t have the number of substitutes as we would like. The girls are excited about the amount of potential playing time ahead of them, and they know they will have to work hard on and off the field to stay healthy and eligible.”

Clintonville is scheduled to take on Berlin on Tuesday in its season-opening game. The Truckers are scheduled to host their first game Friday against Shiocton.