Softball coach Mary Libbesmeier believes the talent and potential is there for the 2017 Magic squad. They just need to realize it.
“Between both our offense and defense, there is a lot of potential there,” said Libbesmeier. “However, there’s a long ways for us to go to get to where we want to be.”
Such is life when your varsity roster is made up of nearly as many freshman and sophomores as it is juniors and seniors.
Monti brings back just three girls from last year’s varsity team and will have five seniors and three juniors to go along with two sophomores and four freshman on the 2017 roster.
Libbesmeier said in terms of turnover, it is certainly a bit of a “rebuilding year.”
Her first step is to get the players to buy in to the program and the culture.
It’s a message she’ll be relying on her three returners, Jamie Axelberg, Rilee Marquette and Amanda Scherber to help deliver.
“It’s about getting the underclassmen up to speed,” said Libbesmeier. “Teaching them that you’re going to have good days and bad days, but to keep working hard and trust the process.”
When it comes to her pitching staff, mixing up the speed will be one of the keys to success. And mixing up the style is something Monti will be able to do.
Libbesmeier said Monti enters the year with three pitchers in Marquette, freshman Caitlin Hinz and sophomore Kylee Beilke.
“All three have different styles,” she said. “It will be nice to have a variety.”
Marquette picked up some experience pitching at the varsity level last year, while the other two will experience it for the first time this year.
Libbesmeier said some of the keys for the young staff will include challenging the batters and keeping them off balance, as well as using the defense behind them.
At the plate and in the field Monti will likely count heavily on two cornerstones in Axelberg and Scherber. Axelberg will hold down the center field position this year, and look to build on a strong year at the plate last season. Scherber will be back at second base, where Libbesmeier said she’s been a “constant.”
Another player expected to key Monti’s attack this season is junior Faith Kopff, who will be making her full-time varsity debut. Libbesmeier is excited about what the shortstop brings to the table.
“She’s very solid, has good range,” she said. “And she does a nice job of putting the ball in play.”
As Monti looks to acclimate a whole number of girls to the varsity level this spring, Libbesmeier said the focus won’t be on winning or losing in the early going, but on preparing to play at this level and to play the right way.
“In the early stages this year we’re looking at progression,” she said.
“It’s a different ballgame when you come to the varsity level,” continued Libbesmeier. “We’re trying to get them to plan ahead, to know what to expect.”
Monti is scheduled to start the season with a home game on Tuesday, April 4, against St. Michael-Albertville. First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at MHS.
Contact Clay Sawatzke at [email protected]