BY DAVID PEDERSEN
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
Delano has not won a league title or qualified to the state softball tournament since 2005. However, there is a lot of talk about this being a time to get back on top.
The Tigers return 12 players with varsity experience and welcome some new talent to help out. The group includes two starting pitchers.
Last season, Delano finished 16-9 overall, 12-6 in the Wright County Conference. The Tigers lost in the section semifinals.
“This team has set some high goals for this season, and I have no doubt they can achieve those goals with hard work, dedication and determination,” said coach Teresa Spurzem. “We have a senior-dominated team, so we have a lot of leadership and softball experience. I am looking forward to a great season.”
Spurzem says senior Katie Vatnsdal and sophomore Makenna Giese will rotate on the mound like they did last year. Both pitched about the same amount of games. It will just depend on who the Tigers are playing.
“It is nice to have two good pitchers when it looks like we will have a lot of game in a short amount of time,” says Spurzem. “Makenna looks stronger and has more knowledge of the game at a varsity level.”
Last year, Giese posted a 10-2 record with a 2.18 earned run average. Vatnsdal was injured during the winter hockey season, but has been cleared to play softball. She was 6-7 pitching with a 4.46 ERA and was second with a .411 batting average.
The top returning hitter is senior catcher/outfielder Katie Emmer at .416 with 37 RBIs, both team highs. She had six of the 11 home runs.
Returning starters include senior Sam Noetzelman, (center field/shortstop), senior Savanah Bettin (second base and outfield), senior Mackenzie Maxwell (outfield), senior Christy Jordan (infield and outfield) and junior Katy Kalleberg (outfield).
Senior Anna Wischmann (second base/outfield) was a top reserve, as was senior Samantha McDonald (first base). Senior Amanda Hanson (first base/outfield) decided to join this year after taking two years off. Senior Rayna Ekman (first base/pitcher) was on the JV last year.
Other newcomers are juniors Ellie and Maggie Rizor. The twin sisters moved from Iowa. Ellie plays shortstop and catcher and Maggie plays at third.
After sailing through the first three games in the Section 5AA softball tournament, Delano lost a double header to Becker and section champ Mound-Westonka to end the season. Orono should contend for the Wright County Conference title.
The first game is scheduled for Monday, April 8 at Litchfield. Home games are set for Tuesday, April 9 against Mound-Westonka, Thursday, April 11 against Dassel-Cokato and Friday, April 12.
A non-conference game at neighbor Rockford is 4 p.m. Monday, April 15.