The Blue Earth Area Buccaneer softball team is gearing up for another season.
Practices for the Bucs softball players began on March 11, and even though they have been forced inside by the snowy March, the team has still been preparing for a strong spring.
Abby Bloomquist was the coach last year, which was her first season with the Bucs softball team.
The 2013 Varsity Buccaneers softball team is pictured above – front row, left to right, Abby Nimz, Megan Wirtjes, Whitney Pirsig, Ashton Hendricksen and Evie Leland. Back row, left to right, Kylie Ahl, Bethany Olson, Audrey McDonald, Janessa Jahnke, Monica Krieger, Devyn Baunshausen and Brianna Ziegler.
This year she returns, along with 13 players on varsity which includes seven seniors, three juniors and three sophomores.
"We know each other better as a team which is going to be a major strength going into the year," she says.
Last year's team consisted of only one senior and a lot of juniors which are returning as this year's experienced seniors. Bloomquist says these are the girls that will be offering leadership on the field.
Megan Wirtjes and Abby Nimz are returning players that will be the Bucs' strength on the pitching mound.
Janessa Jahnke is looking to be the workhorse behind the plate as catcher again this year.
"She's a talented athlete who knows the game, and will be one that the team can look to for leadership," Bloomquist says.
Jahnke also was the lone Buc softball player named to the South Central Conference All-Conference team last year.
Evie Leland, who was injured early in the season last year, is back this season.
"She is a feisty player and can remember what players have done. This helps her predict game situations," the coach adds.
Bloomquist also states that Monica Krieger will be a strength in the outfield lineup and will be offering leadership for the team throughout the season.
"But all the players are solid this year, which is good," she says.
The Bucs first game was scheduled for April 1 against New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva.
However, given the weather that game and the rest scheduled for the first week in April will most likely be rescheduled.
"Hopefully by the second week in April we'll be able to play as scheduled," the Buc coach adds. The second week in April includes games against Belle Plaine and New Ulm.
"New Ulm is always a threat coming into the season," Bloomquist says.
St. Peter and Waseca are also looking to be some tough competition for the girls this year.
But, the Bucs are working on preparing themselves mentally with some team building efforts.
"The girls need to be more confident both individually and as a team,"?the coach says. "But we do have a lot of strong, talented athletes."
Bloomquist also hopes this season is a little more steady than last.
"I want to see consistency throughout entire games," she says. "And, I think it will help that the girls are more mentally prepared going in."
According to Bloomquist, this year the varsity team has the returning experience which makes for better chemistry.
"They have a lot of fun together which makes the game a lot more enjoyable," she explains.