Softball: Osakis has big nucleus back to build around
The Osakis softball team is eager to see what a big returning group of players can accomplish together if they can get on the field.
The Silverstreaks were 8-11 a year ago and 6-4 in the Prairie Conference. Back from that group are 10 letter winners, including three seniors in Maddie Johanson, Cassie LeBrun and Chaeli Falzone.
“We return a large number of position players and skill players, which we alway seem to do,” 22-year head coach John Stigman said as he enters the season with a 262-160 career record. “Our strength should be in the experience that we are returning, including two members of our pitching staff. We have the majority of our infield and our outfield back as well. Our hitting lineup will feature a little less pop, but we should see team speed be a big offensive factor for us.”
Osakis did lose some quality players from a year ago in Jaden Klimek, Kylie Anderson, Shea Olson, Morgan Herzog and Aubrey Koep. Klimek racked up a lot of innings from the rubber for the Silverstreaks over the years.
Juniors Laynee Hartshorn (C), Grace Oeltjen (OF) and Tia Dykema (SS), and sophomores Lexi Klimek (OF), Shelbe Schmidt (P/INF), Hayleigh Niehoff (P/INF) and Kennedy George (OF) join Johanson (1B/DP), LeBrun (INF) and Falzone (OF) as the letter winners back. Sophomore Kali Schoeck (INF) and junior Brittany Dietrich (1B) are a couple other athletes who could add depth.
“We will be looking to shift people again to fill open positions with the best possible athletes, but we feel like we have some really good candidates to fill those with,” Stigman said. “We did lose some key players in our seniors last year, but it is not who you lose that is as important as what you replace them with. Seniors graduate each year. The key is to find replacements who play to that level or offer something that their predecessor didn’t.”
Stigman said an important part of success if a season takes place at all this spring will be team unity.
“Everything on this team flows through our culture,” he said. “We want to build a strong team culture that allows our players to step out of their comfort zone so they can improve and do the things they were meant to do.”
Stigman said defending Prairie Conference champion Browerville-Eagle Valley, along with Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, both have teams that can compete near the top of the conference. Annandale, Albany and Royalton are also some top teams in Section 6AA, according to Stigman.
(Editor’s note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minnesota State High School League spring activities season is suspended through at least May 4. Whether a season will be played at all is very much up in the air, but these spring preview stories are meant to give coaches for area teams an opportunity to share what they think their players might be capable of if any type of season is played this year.)
2020 OSAKIS SOFTBALL
SENIORS - Maddie Johanson, Cassie LeBrun, Chaeli Falzone; JUNIORS - Laynee Hartshorn, Grace Oeltjen, Tia Dykema, Brittany Dietrich; SOPHOMORES - Lexi Klimek, Shelbe Schmidt, Hayleigh Niehoff, Kennedy George, Kali Schoeck
COACHES - Head coach - John Stigman - 22nd season, 262-160; Assistant coaches - Brad Zimmel, Patrick Stier