Softball Preview 2023
The first season of sanctioned softball in South Dakota is off and running. There are so many unknowns this season that this preview will probably be better used as trash liner than a useful preview. However we want to start covering spring softball in South Dakota so we have to start somewhere. The rankings are nearly meaningless with just a couple of games in the books and so many new coaches and players. Let's break down what we know.
Head Coach: Trent Dlugosh
Key Players: Madison Evans, Kierra Lubovich, Norah Christiansen, Dilynn Severson
Outlook: The top team in this class in 2021 was Lincoln and they are respected again this spring. Madison Evans is their ace, she has verbally committed to USD as a junior. Look for Kierra Lubovich who saw action in the circle as a freshman last season. Lubovich is also a big hitter along with Norah Christiansen and Dilynn Severson in the lineup. They have a lot more pop than that as well. Coach Dlugosh is ready to roll, "Our girls are extremely excited for the season to get underway. It's been 18 months since we've taken the field as a Lincoln Patriots team, and they are ready to get back at it. From a coaching standpoint, one of the challenges will be finding playing time for players with this new format. In the past we played double headers every night so we had two games to get kids playing time."
Head Coach: Ed Whiting
Key Players: Kendall Kniffen, Ashlen Johnson, Haley Fodness, Ema Buie, Sidney Jensen
Outlook: Jefferson competed in the fall of 2021 for the club season and struggled, but they are much more explosive now. They’ll feature Sidney Jensen as their ace in the circle with 3-4 other pitchers they can go to. Their senior hitters like Emma Buie, Taylor Evenson, Haley Fodness, Brainna Herdon, Kendall Kniffen and Sydney Tagtow are the foundation for a tough lineup. “This is truly a year to get a feel for each other,” said Coach Ed Whiting. “We have a completely new staff that has not worked with any of our girls prior to this season. In addition, there are girls that will be on the team that have not played together as they were involved in another fall sport which made them unavailable during the fall club season.”
Head Coach: Keith Flemmer
Key Players: Madelyn Ducheneaux, Hailey Boer, Maleia Knutson, Macy Bryant, Cora Payne, Rylee Reeser
Outlook: Look for Madelyn Ducheneaux and Cora Payne to share innings this season. Both have great stuff, Ducheneaux is a power pitcher and Payne hits her spots well. The lineup is stocked with talent including Maleia Knutson who is a home run threat.
4. Rapid City Stevens
Head Coach: Sherry Grismer
Key Players: Lainey Van Zee, Summer Holway, Sayde Hunt, Tia Gease, Bailey Kokesh, Joslyn Johnson
Outlook: The Raiders are a young squad but will have a potent lineup that’s ready to hit the ball. Look for Van Zee and Kokesh to log innings in the circle.
Head Coach: Emma Hardin
Key Players: Morgan Linstad, Grace Adamson, Kylie Moe, Tess Burns
Outlook: The Bobcats have good pitching, defense and speed. Look for Morgan Linstad to disrupt a lot of games at the lead off spot, she has great power and speed. Grace Adamson will get most of the innings this season. This could be a very good team.
Head Coach: Ryan Soukup
Key Players: Kira Mentele, Karsten Schlimgen, Ava Tobin, Olivia Tobin, Mary Koch, Ryan Winterboer, Hailey Jones, Sam Fonder, Atley Stephens
Outlook: O’Gorman will have one of the top pitchers in Kira Mentele to toe the rubber. “As always, the season rests on your pitchers, we feel good about our chances with Mentele and Koch in the circle,” said Coach Soukup. “We are excited about our prospects offensively, but time will tell how quickly we can mold into a team and play complimentary softball.”
Head Coach: Corey Christensen
Key Players: Jorden Gabert, Coral Gonseth, Tenley Rude, DJ Schoby
Outlook: “We will have a lot of new varsity players and could be very young,” said Coach Christensen. “We are hoping for new faces in new places to step up and look for our 2 returning seniors with varsity experience (Jorden Gabert and Coral Gonseth) to lead the group.”
Head Coach: Jill Muth
Key Players: Grace Behrns, Elle Feser, Brooklyn Townsend, Tori Vellek
Outlook: Grace Behrns will be in the circle with a solid defense around her. Elle Feser and Brookly Townsend have All-State potential and could be dangerous hitters.
Head Coach Kelli Brinka
Key Players: Jada Brown, Brooklyn Gronau, Jade Lund, Kinsley VanGilder
Outlook: “We have a lot of experience coming back on our Varsity team this year. We also have a lot of new faces coming out for the first time or making the switch from slow pitch to fast pitch,” said Coach Brinka. They have a great starting pitcher in Jada Brown who pitched the Arrows to a Club Team State Title last fall.
Head Coach: Kim Bazata
Key Players: Emma Akkerman, Isabel Carda, Tajsia Herron, Jolissa Hanson, Ava Brink, Tierney Schramm, Emma Hensley, Jacey Hayen
Outlook: Coach Bazata has some experience and some youth, “We added a couple of freshman pitchers that will make a big impact to our program (Emma Hensley and Emily Akkermann. Tierney Schramm is also new to WHS softball, and she will make a big impact in the middle infield and at the plate.” They have strong bats in Herron, Hanson, and Brink in the middle with Carda providing a solid presence behind the plate.