The Brandon-Evansville softball team was another area program with a lot of optimism as the Chargers thought ahead to the 2020 season.
Brandon-Evansville went 16-4 in 2019 and expected a solid nucleus back this spring to lead the way. Mikenna Pattrin and Bailey Schaefer are both juniors who were All-Pheasant Conference first-team players a year ago, with Pattrin being named the league’s Pitcher of the Year. Schaefer was also an all-state honorable-mention player. Kristen Kokett was another first-team all-conference selection in 2019 who is a senior this year.
“We had very high expectations for this group,” head coach Kasi Sieling said. “We have very talented, hard working, driven girls in our program who have and could continue to accomplish great things for our program.”
This is a Chargers team that hit .373 as a group last spring. That led to the Pheasant Conference championship at 13-1 in league play, and a runs-per-game average of 8.7.
“Our conference looked to be competitive again this year, as well as our section, and I think we would have been competing for the top of both of those levels,” Sieling said. “Kristen, Maddie (Otto) and Haddey (Zastrow) are tremendous leaders, and I knew they would be able to set the tone for our team and be excellent leaders throughout the season while leaving such a positive mark on our program, which they still continue to do.”
Sieling said this is a resilient group of girls who will be ready if they somehow do get an opportunity to compete at all this year.
“No matter what, if we are able to compete this season, we won't take any of those moments for granted, and make the most of whatever we are given,” she said.
Teams throughout the area are trying to stay connected as much as possible through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I just miss being with the girls,” Sieling said. “I've coached and taught most of these girls since they were young and being with them every day is something I cherish. They challenge me, make me laugh and always push me to be a better coach for them, and that is something I miss every day through this challenging time.”
This whole situation has been a learning experience for many, including the Chargers.
“One thing I've learned through all of this is that coaching softball is about so much more than the game,” Sieling said. “It is about the relationships and the bonds we build with each other as individuals and as a team, and those bonds are something we'll continue to focus on strengthening.”
(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.)