Softball: Royalton looks to catch top spot in realigned Prairie Conference

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Royalton senior Kelsey Petron fields a grounder during Wednesday’s practice. Petron returns as the starting second baseman for the Royals, who return their entire starting infield.

The Prairie Conference is splitting into two divisions for softball this season.

With defending conference champion and state entrant Osakis in the North, the Royalton softball team enters the spring with its sights on finishing atop the South Division.

Expected to lead the way for the Royals will be five returning starters, including  seniors Kelsey Petron (second base), Allison Popp (short stop) and Lexie Lehrke (first base/designated hitter), junior Kalee Petron and sophomore Jacquline Nichols.

Also expected to play significant roles are junior Hannah Fussy (outfield), sophomore Brandi Smekofske (outfield) and freshman Haley Olson (pitcher), Royalton head coach Kari Meek said.

The Royals will be looking to fill key positions at pitcher, catcher and in the outfield, but has young talent ready to step in.

“We are working to be at the top of our half of the conference,” Meek said. “We are returning our full infield with some key offensive players. It should prove to be another successful year, even with the holes last year’s seniors left.”

Graduating from last year’s team were Lisa Justin, Brooke Bursch, Hannah Gurbada and Karla Meyer.

Royalton’s competition in the South will be Swanville, Upsala, St. John’s Prep and West Central Area.

The Royals are scheduled to open their season with a pair of rescheduled home games Friday against St. John’s Prep and West Central.