By PATRICK SLACK
Royalton dropped six of seven non-conference games a year ago, but dominated in Prairie Conference action, claiming the South Division title.
The Royals will look to match that feat against division opponents Swanville, Upsala and Eagle Valley, with a group of six returning starters leading the way.
Junior infielder Jacquline Nichols comes back as Royalton’s top hitter, joined by fellow starters, seniors Kalee Petron (third base) and Hannah Fussy (center field), juniors Brandi Smekofske (left field) and Katelyn Kasella (first base) and sophomore Haley Olson (pitcher/right field).
Graduating from last year’s team were Amy Vannurden, Lexie Lehrke, Allison Popp and Kelsey Petron.
Looking to fill holes due to graduation and compete for playing time are sophomore Maddy Block (catcher/infield) and freshmen Bethany Cimenski (catcher), Kayla Eli (pitcher) and Nicole Popp (infield).
“We will have a good core of returning players, but will need to fill some key roles due to graduating seniors and injuries,” Royalton head coach Amy Krueger said. “We have a lot of young talent joining the team and I am confident that it will be a successful year with this great group of young women.”
“We expect to be a big presence in the conference with hopes for a repeat of last year’s championship,” she said.