By PATRICK SLACK
Coming off its first ever Central Minnesota Conference (CMC) championship, the Holdingford softball team embarks on its quest for another title this spring.
The Huskers will have to do it without five of their top players from a year ago, but bring back three starters and a deep group of players eyeing starting positions.
Juniors Alyssa Ohman (pitcher), Jena Volkers (short stop) and Haley Huls (outfield/infield) started last season for Holdingford, which also placed second at its sub-section tournament.
Ohman had a 14-3 record with a 1.33 earned-run average last season and Volkers hit .372.
Graduating from last year’s team were Ashley Gerads, Steph Skwira, Kelsey Butler, Anna Bernstetter, Sam Kuklok, Alyssa Kostreba and Kayla Ebnet.
Seniors on this year’s team include Katelyn Butkowski (center field), Erin Mensinger (catcher), Alison Meagher (first base), Amy Scegura (right field/pitcher) and Alisha Brinker, who suffered a season-ending injury during the basketball season.
New players competing for playing time are juniors Amanda Beckius (third base/outfield), Ashley Breth (left field) and Janessa Gill (infield/outfield/pitcher), as well as a number of sophomores.
“Right now, the competition for starting spots is fierce,” Holdingford head coach Dan Talberg said. “We always have high expectations for this program.”
“We would obviously love to repeat as CMC champs and continue playing deeper into the playoff season,” he said. “The last two years we finished second in sub-sections and we want to break through that wall.”
In addition to the Huskers, Talberg said that he expects Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted and Maple Lake to be tough competition in the CMC with returning starting pitchers and Pierz to be strong after knocking off Holdingford and several good teams in last year’s playoffs.
“We have some big shoes to fill this year and this is the first time I’ve graduated that many seniors,” Talberg said. “Fortunately, the talent level doesn’t seem to drop off.”
Holdingford is scheduled to open its season March 30 with a home game against Albany.