Bulldog softball team hopes increased numbers will fuel success

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Members of the MFL MarMac softball team include (sitting) Bayleigh Wood, Adrianna Schoulte, Katelyn Gerndt, Kaylee Baker, Mattie Hallberg; (second row) Garnett Niedziejko, Jerica Wille, Lauren Haberichter, Ashley Shaw, Kaylin Garbes; (back) Devon Meyer, Hailey Bouzek, Grace Palas, Kacie Picha, Savannah Schaller, Autumn Shaw, Ayla Gerndt and Morgan Jacobson. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


MFL MarMac softball coach Jennifer Drew hopes a larger roster will help fuel the team’s success this season.


The Bulldogs lost just two seniors from a year ago and return all-conference pitcher Lauren Haberichter, who missed much of the 2021 season with an injury.


“She’s worked hard to get back to full strength,” said Drew.


Junior shortstop Ashley Shaw and outfielder Savannah Schaller are also key returners for the Bulldog lineup, as are freshmen Autumn Shaw, Garnett Niedziejko and Morgan Jacobson. Shaw will see time at first, while Niedziejko and Jacobson will round out the outfield and step in as pitchers. Sophomore Ayla Gerndt will do most of the catching, according to Drew, and sister Katelyn Gerndt will play at second base.


“We have eight returners and key positions coming back, and then 10 eighth graders this year. That’s pretty much double last year,” said Drew. “It will be nice to have those numbers and have options at different positions. Last year, we didn’t have that depth.”


That youth comes with a learning curve, however. Drew said practices have largely focused on building up the players’ fundamentals.


“We’ve worked on showing them the game: base running, signs, hitting, situations,” she explained. “The first three weeks of practice, we worked so hard. I hope it will show when we get on the field.”


Drew said the first part of the schedule, which was slated to include games against tough New Hampton, Crestwood and Decorah teams, followed by the conference opener and a tournament at North Fayette Valley, is a good, early test for the Bulldogs.


“We have to hit the ground running,” the coach stated. 


Goals this season include getting better each and every game. 


“We want to start small and work up,” Drew said. “We have so much raw talent, so we have to get in that mindset and go out and do the best we can. It’s a learning experience.”

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