Softball coaches in the area have not had much to cheer about weather-wise so far this muddy and wet spring, but the defending Greater Metro Conference co-champion Menomonee Falls girls got one important date in and came away with an impressive 11-1 victory over fellow co-champ DSHA on March 29.
The game was played at the Indians' old home field of Willowood Park as opposed to the new high school field because of wet conditions.
Indians coach Lou Sanicola was encouraged by the start even as he and the Indians struggle to find outdoor workout and game time. Falls has abundant returnees but must replace key seniors such as three-time Now All-Suburban outfielder Stephanie Cole, Ashley Zdroik and Morgan Schiedemeyer.
They were the two-three-four hitters in the Indians' batting order.
"We're confident we'll find somebody to fill the gaps," said Sanicola. "We'll do a little experimentation, see who we can get on base, who can bunt them over and see who has a high enough batting average in the three spot to drive in some runs.
"We'll figure it out."
The Indians finished at 22-6 last year, co-champs of the GMC with DSHA. They lost in the WIAA sectional final to Watertown. They will build around returning junior pitcher Ciera Jones to chase down another league title this season.
The tentative starting lineup includes new sophomore catcher Emma Neale, while at first is two-year letterwinning senior Allie Paulson, and junior speedster Lou Sanicola at second base.
Senior letterwinner Gabby Feltman is slated to start at shortstop but is nursing a shoulder injury. To help compensate, junior letterwinner Cami Stgler is moving from third to short and will also split time with senior Elena Beck at third. The veteran all-junior outfield includes Kenzie Poetzel in left, Megan Jackson and Abbey Frambs.
Other seniors include Miranda Fluegge and Olivia Schersing.
"Like everybody else, we've had one practice, one scrimmage and one game outside," said Sanicola, "but we have a lot of experience and that helps because the kids know what to expect and how hard to work. We expect them to be aggressive in the (batter's) box and on the bases. We just don't have to do a lot of teaching with this group."
Co-captains will be Jones, Paulson, Feltman and Sciortino.
If the weather holds, Falls will visit border rival and North Shore Conference champion Germantown at 4:30 p.m. Friday, April 7. The pair will see each other more often when Germantown joins the GMC next year.
Then on Saturday, April 8, Falls will take part in the Greenfield quadrangular.
"Our nonconference schedule is at a very high level," said Sanicola. "We want to compete against the better teams and the better pitchers."
Jones scattered four hits in the six-inning win against DSHA as she had nine strikeouts against three walks. DSHA pitchers walked the Indians 11 times. Beck knocked in two runs and Stigler had two hits while Frambs walked twice and scored twice. A two-run second gave Falls the lead for good.
"It was a nice start," said Sanicola.