Young, talented Warriors excited for 2012 season
2012 Season Preview
February 16, 2012
MILWAUKEE – Youthfulness will be on display for the 2012 Wisconsin Lutheran College softball team as 12 underclassmen will comprise this season’s roster. Although young, the Warriors’ lineup will feature plenty of talented players ready to compete.
“We are very excited with the players that we have,” says first-year head coach Bill Curtis. “They have come into the start of the season with a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard.”
Not only are the Warriors young, but their roster features 13 players which means everyone will be given the opportunity to contribute. Curtis believes that all of his players have the attitude and skill-set to make big contributions for Wisconsin Lutheran.
“We are very pleased with all 13 players on our team,” Curtis says. “We have some very athletic players and are pleased with the quality of players we have on the squad.”
Experience won’t be a concern in the pitching circle this season for WLC as it brings back staff ace Kendra Thomas (Jenison, Mich./Jenison). The sophomore logged 101 1/3 innings last season, finishing with 57 strikeouts and a 4.84 ERA.
“We are very pleased and excited to have Kendra back as our number one pitcher,” says Curtis. “She is throwing harder than she has before and with great accuracy and we have all the confidence in the world in her.”
While Thomas figures to be the ace of the staff, the Warriors will look to some new faces for more innings in the circle this year. Sophomore Jocelyn Bykowski (Greendale, Wis./Greendale) and freshman Tarah Steinbrenner (Boise, Idaho/Centennial) could both figure into the rotation this spring.
“We’re going to be expecting a lot more out of Jocelyn this year as she will be our number two and carry a lot more innings,” says Curtis. “We expect Tarah to contribute some innings here and there.”
The catcher position is a little more uncertain as Curtis sees three players who could figure into the mix.
“At this moment, we will have a platooning situation as we have three catchers,” Curtis says. “Most likely we will settle on two of those three when the season begins.”
Rechlicz, a sophomore, hit .239 for the Warriors last season and drove in 15 runs. Sievert and Wolske are talented newcomers who could also be added into the infield rotation as the season progresses.
The infield is another position where the Warriors have several different options moving forward. While these options are available, Curtis envisions sophomores Kelsi Daffner (Two Rivers, Wis./Manitowoc Lutheran) and Jinny Curtis (Muskego, Wis./Wisconsin Lutheran) playing key parts in the infield this season.
“We’re going to have a couple different lineups in the infield,” says Curtis. “Certainly Kelsi and Jinny will be anchoring the infield positions this season.”
Curtis played in five games last season before suffering a season-ending injury, while Daffner started 32 games for the Warriors.
Sievert should factor into the infield mix, while Steinbrenner could also see time at first base. Two other players who could compete for a spot in the infield are Wolske and Dayan Gacgacao (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young).
“Emily is a player who will certainly factor into our lineup whether it is at catcher or infield,” Curtis says. “Tarah will obviously focus on pitching, but could see time at first base as well.”
“We’re not sure what roles Andria and Dayan will have yet, but certainly they will have an impact for us,” says Curtis.
Lauren Mantz (West Bend, Wis./Kettle Moraine Lutheran) is expected to make a big impact for the Warriors again in 2012 as the 2011 All-NAC Honorable Mention selection is back in the fold this season. Mantz hit .362 last season and Curtis is expecting big things from the junior this spring.
“Lauren is a very talented athlete and displays a great attitude,” says Curtis. “We are potentially looking at her at third base as well, but she will make a big impact wherever she is.”
Part of the reason Mantz may see a move to the infield is because Curtis sees four or five others who could have an impact in the outfield. Highlighting that group are sophomores Mindy Schalinske (Burlington, Wis./Shoreland Lutheran) and Bykowski.
“We are expecting Mindy and Jocelyn to take on leadership roles this season,” Curtis says. “With a young team, we need players to step up and show how to play this game at this level.”
The three other newcomers who could figure into the outfield mix this season are Gacgacao, Sarah Conwell (Pleasant Prairie, Wis./Kenosha Tremper) and Yudyli Salcedo (St. Paul, Min./Johnson). Thomas also could figure into the outfield when she isn’t assuming her role as the staff ace.
“Kendra is one of our more talented players and she will be utilized when not pitching,” Curtis says. “The other players will see time at some position and make an impact.”
With 13 players on the team, Curtis knows that each and every one of them will have a role on the team and be expected to contribute. However, he is hoping that the season-opening trip to Florida will answer some questions and the Warriors will be able to set on a lineup going forward.
“With a small team everyone will have a role and a chance to contribute,” Curtis says. “It’s currently a work-in-progress but hopefully coming out of Florida we will have our lineup set.”
Wisconsin Lutheran opens its 2012 season March 12 at the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic in Fort Myers, Fla. Conference play starts March 31 at Warrior Field against Maranatha and concludes at Warrior Field April 29 against Concordia Wisconsin. The Northern Athletics Conference Tournament is set for May 3-5 at Alverno Field in Milwaukee. The winner of the six-team, double-elimination conference tournament becomes the league’s automatic qualifier to the 2012 NCAA Division III Softball Championship Tournament.