By Jake Schroer
Crow River News Sports
The 2013 STMA softball season ended with a loss in the section playoffs. Head coach Kellie Shumway felt the season was a success, all things considered. The Knights won the Mississippi 8 conference championship in 2013.
2014, however, is a new season. The Knights move forward without eight valuable seniors, including seven-win pitcher Alex Berg and catcher Bianca Zins, who led the team with a .396 batting average, so some other players will need to step up, coach Shumway said. In spite of the loss, she believes the Knights have a good chance to compete for the conference crown again.
“We’ve got some great young talent that we’re looking forward to seeing on the field,” she said.
Krista Slavin, a junior pitcher who also plays for the basketball team, was one name Shumway mentioned among key players for the upcoming season. She also mentioned Alli Burditt, another junior expected to play a big role.
One thing driving the Knights this season is the loss that ended last season; a 9-0 shutout at the hands of the Centennial Cougars. Shumway said her girls still talk about the loss and want another crack at Centennial this year in the section tournament.
“A lot of these girls were there and they saw what happened, so I think that they’re looking at that.”
Senior captain Erin Schindler said she loves the talent and work ethic she sees from her younger teammates.
“To see these younger girls work hard in the gym is really pushing us older girls to work harder. So I think we’re really going to have a good team this year.”
Schindler said she wants to be a good example and a good captain to her teammates. Her personal goal is to be a better overall player and improve upon last year, where she finished with a .265 average in 15 games. She collected three extra base hits last season.
Shumway said her girls are very excited for the upcoming season. She mentioned that for the first time, a group of girls played dome ball outside of the season together. The girls have also worked hard in other ways to prepare for the 2014 softball schedule.
“We are looking forward to a great season,” she said, adding that the girls have already begun building chemistry due to their offseason workouts. She cannot wait to see how everything unfolds once the team gets out on the field.
The Knights kick off the softball season with a conference road game on April 3 against Big Lake.