Rebels return strong defensive rotation
By Scott A. Kolb
The Southland softball team has two starting pitchers coming back this season and that will help with a number of doubleheaders.
There are a total of four Three Rivers Conference doubleheaders scheduled for this season, including today’s opener against Grand Meadow/LeRoy-Ostrander/Kingsland.
Chelsey Smith, a junior, saw most of the mound time last season for the Rebels. Brandi Schammel, a ninth-grader, saw some relief duty last year but she’ll join Smith in the starting rotation this season.
"It’s nice to have two quality starters, and I plan on using them both throughout the season," Southland coach Greg Schulte said. "They’ve both looked strong in the pre-season practices. We practiced outside for the first time on Friday and got in some work at our field in Rose Creek. The girls are ready to get started."
Six seniors are back for the Rebels this season. Ashley Holdgrafer, Emily Heimer, Kari Anderson, Chelsea Miller, Heather Sheely and Ashley Smith all lettered last season. Most of the seniors are infielders, so the Rebels will be strong defensively with a healthy dose of experience.
Another key defensive player returning the lineup is junior catcher Shari Swenson. The Rebels have good depth at nearly every position, so they should be able to improve on their 5-16 record from last year.
"We came on strong late in the season last year, and won all of our five games in the last couple of weeks," Schulte said. "It will be another tough season in the Three Rivers, but the girls gained a lot of confidence with the way we finished last year. We’ll be a lot more competitive this season."
Schulte ranks Chatfield and Rushford-Peterson as the teams to beat this season in the TRC.
The coach also looks at GMLOK as a tough TRC team, so the opener today at Ostrander against the GMLOK Bulldogs will be a good test for the Rebels. The home opener at Rose Creek City Park is then set for Thursday against Plainview-Elgin-Millville.