By PATRICK SLACK
Little Falls captured the first ever Granite Ridge Conference (GRC) softball championship last season.
This spring, however, the Flyers will have to combat with the departure of a deep graduating class and the arrival of area power Albany as it looks to compete with the rest of the GRC.
Little Falls will bring back four starters from last year’s 15-10 GRC title-winning team, led by the reigning Record Player of the Year, senior outfielder Jamie Jenks.
Jenks pounded opposing pitchers for a .633 batting average, 16 doubles and six home runs a year ago while covering substantial ground in center field.
Seniors Chantelle Anderson (right field) and Chelsey Karnowski (third base/outfield) also return with starting experience, as does one of the Flyers’ two main pitchers from a year ago, junior Alea Cekalla.
“After graduating the majority of our starters, we will have a lot of inexperienced people in new positions,” Little Falls co-head coach Sally Heier said. “We are excited to fill these roles based on hard work, attitude and desire, coachability, athletic ability and softball knowledge, along with team needs.”
Seniors on this year’s team include Jamie Jenks, Chelsey Karnowski, Chantelle Anderson, Jordan Wise, Carley Townsend, Emily Suska, Katie Stewart, Kristen Gotfredson and Megan Czech.
Graduating from last season’s roster were Britian Conley, Kelsey Thompson, Makayla Jorgensen, Chloe Nelson, Kala Bzdok, Alayna Kabanuk, Brichelle Brummer, Holly Kampa and Mandy Nelson.
Albany joins the GRC this season, and as the reigning Section 6AA champion over runner-up Little Falls, looks to enter as this spring’s team to beat.
“After a great first week of practice, we are excited to see what this season has to hold,” Heier said. “We have a whole new varsity team, a whole new coaching staff and 60 student-athletes eager to get their cleats dirty. We are on a mission to accomplish great things.”
Little Falls is scheduled to open the season at home against Pierz, Thursday.