With all but one key player, a graduated senior, back from last year’s squad, softball coach Mary Libbesmeier entered this season hoping the team could build off of and grow from last year.
So far, so good.
The Magic scored in every frame of their five-inning season-opening 11-3 victory over St. Cloud Tech at the St. Cloud State University Husky Dome Tuesday night.
“Very nice,” said Libbesmeier, about starting the season with a win.
“It builds a lot of confidence in our team.”
Monticello got two runs in the top of the first inning, setting the tone for the game, and hopefully the season.
“It got the monkey off everyone’s back,” said Libbesmeier. “We felt a sense of relief right away.”
The Magic continued to put up runs Tuesday, scoring two in the second, one in the third, four in the fourth and two more in the fifth before the game was called due to a time limit at the dome.
Monticello got key offensive performances from several girls, as the team racked up 12 hits in the game.
Leading the way was Payton Hanson, who went 2 for 4 with two runs scored, Katie Fisette, 2 for 3 with a triple and two runs scored, and Bret Hulett, 3 for 4 with two runs scored and two RBIs.
Emily Safar added a double and three RBIs for the Magic.
Hulett got the job done on the mound, as well. The junior tossed all five innings, allowing just three runs on three hits while striking out four batters.
Tuesday night, Monticello was able to succeed in all three major facets of the game, pitching, hitting and defending well.
Libbesmeier hopes that is something her team can continue.
“It’s a little early to make judgements as far as what our strengths will be,” she said. “But I’m hoping we’ll be a well-rounded team.”
Pitching should be solid for the Magic, as they return both of their starters from last year in Hulett and senior Esther Watson.
Also expected to be a key contributor is returning all-conference player, Alissa VonderHaar. The senior will start at shortstop and bat in the three hole for the Magic.
As the season goes on, Libbesmeier will be looking for her entire lineup to prove they can score in multiple ways.
“Tonight, we hit the ball. We had solid, legitimate line drive hits,” she said. “We want to be able to hit the ball, and we want to be able to manufacture runs.”
If they can do that, and if they can continue to show the growth and advancement that Libbesmeier hopes to see out of an experienced squad, the coach believes it could be a good season.
“We can compete,” she said. “We’re here, and ready.”
Monticello’s next game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. Thursday at St. Francis. Monticello is home Friday to take on Becker. That game is slated to start at 4 p.m.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]