After a long winter, softball is the farthest thing from one's mind.
Or is it?
Blue Earth Area softball coach Abby Bloomquist is one who has really been thinking about spring sports.
The softball team is pictured above, in pairs, left to right are Ciarra Olson and Bethany Olson, Kylie Ahl and Audrey McDonald, Beka Krussow and Brianna Ziegler, Caitlyn Holm and Sydney Henningsen, Annaliese Klinkner and Makenzie Slette and in the front row is Angie Cyphers.
The BEA softball team began practicing on March 10 and they are prepared for the season to begin.
"We have four players returning from last year's varsity team," Bloomquist says.
There are 12 girls on the varsity team three of those are seniors.
Audrey McDonald, Ciarra Olsen and Bethany Olson will be entering their last season.
"Otherwise, we pretty much have a whole new team,"?Bloomquist adds.
Which is looking to be a good thing for girls this season.
"They have a wide spread set of strengths as a team," the Bucs coach says. "There really won't be any holes in the lineup."
Unfortunately, due to snow and colder temps, the practices have been held inside, making it more challenging to pin down who will play what role on the field.
"It's hard to gauge right now, but many of the sophomores will be starters,"?she says.
The maroon and gold will face New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva for their first game of the season on March 31 if the weather allows.
"The first game is really when we can tell who will fill which role during the season,"?Bloomquist explains.
The coach adds that playing the first game agains NRHEG is appropriate since they are an evenly matched opponent, which makes it easier to evaluate where the team is at right away in the season.
"We will see what we need to work on and go from there,"?she adds.
Last season presented the team with one main challenge; which was the team recovering from their mistakes.
"This season, if we have a struggle, we need to come back from it right away,"?she says.
So, the girls are going to aim for consistency.
"Our record last year did not reflect the strength of our team,"?the coach says.
There are a couple teams in the conference who the Bucs have their eyes on for a true competition.
"There are a lot of very strong teams in our conference," Bloomquist explains. "We hope to hit the middle of the pack."
Aside from setting goals as a team, the girls are also setting individual goals.
The goals range from hitting to fielding and even some who hope to make all-conference.
"Some of the girls even made the goal of just gaining a better knowledge of the game,"?the coach adds.
The BEA?softball team also hopes to improve offensively.
"In the past we have relied on a few girls for a bulk of the offense,"?Bloomquist says. "This year we have a better spread of talents."
The team is starting off with 12 girls but it may be adjusted throughout the season.
"Especially during sections, the number of girls seeing varsity time will probably increase," the coach explains.
And in order to have the best season this spring, the girls are hoping to see a lot of people out watching the games.
"We're looking to the fans to come and support these girls," Bloomquist says.
The coach adds the games are free and the support means a lot to the team. Many of the girls are very involved in the community and have many connections in the area.
The varsity players include; Makenzie Slette, Sydney Henningsen, Annaliese Klinkner, Caitlyn Holm, Brianna Ziegler, Kylie Ahl, Audrey McDonald, Ciarra Olson, Bethany Olson, Beka Krussow and Angie Cyphers.
Most of the girls are playing together as a team for the first time this season, but that doesn't seem to matter, according to Bloomquist.
"They all enjoy playing together,"?she says. "That is going to be a very good thing."