15 southeastern Minnesota softball players to watch in the 2023 season
Once again, southeastern Minnesota is littered with standout softball players as the 2023 season gets underway. Here are 15 to keep an eye on.
ROCHESTER — Last season was one to remember for Rochester area softball teams and players.
Chatfield brought home the program's first state tournament championship, while Winona finished as Class AAA runner-up for the second consecutive season, in addition to a number of individual standouts last spring.
This year should be no different.
With that, here are 15 softball players to keep an eye on this season:
Tiegan Mancuso, Mayo
The senior infielder is arguably the fastest in the area. She was a perfect 31-for-31 on stolen bases and hit .469 with a .571 OBP en route to All-Big Nine honors a year ago. She is committed to perennial NCAA Division II power Winona State University and is expected to help Mayo be in the thick of the Big Nine Conference race.
Claire Springer, Chatfield
The senior right-hander was tremendous in the circle last year as a junior for coach Jerry Chase. Springer finished the year 20-1 with a 1.07 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 124 ⅓ innings and pitched in every game of the Gophers’ playoff run, helping capture the program’s first state title in the process. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse commit was an All-Section 1AA, Class AA All-Tournament and Class AA All-State Honorable Mention selection.
Makayla Steffes, Winona
Whether it’s in the circle, at shortstop, at the plate or on the base paths, one would be hard-pressed to find a more complete softball player than Steffes. She was 13-1 with a 0.79 ERA — a program record — while allowing just 10 earned runs, with 142 strikeouts in 88 1/3 innings. She struck out a program record 18 batters in one game and tossed six shutouts, a no-hitter and two one-hitters. Also had a .429 batting average at the plate with 15 steals and was named First-Team Class AAA All-State after helping the Winhawks to another Class AAA runner-up finish.
Macy Borowski, Byron
A key contributor at both the plate and in the circle for the Bears. All-HVL, All-Section 1AAA and was a Class AAA All-State Honorable Mention a year ago. She committed to Brown University after a terrific summer for Minneapolis-based Midwest Speed 16U National. Borowski will be asked to do even more this year with the graduation of standout Maddie Cocker.
Brenna Koeppel, St. Charles
After impressing in the circle as a sophomore, Koeppel took an even bigger step forward as a junior. She threw 130 1/3 of the Saints' 156 innings last season, finishing with 1.40 ERA, 118 strikeouts and an impressive 0.89 WHIP. She was All-Three Rivers, All-Section 1AA and Second Team Class AA All-State and will look to guide the Saints back to the state tournament. St. Charles is ranked No. 1 in Class AA by The Breakdown to enter the year.
Calleigh Richards, Kasson-Mantorville
Named one of the top 75 juniors in Minnesota by The Breakdown, Richards is primed for a big year. She was solid as a sophomore, hitting .425, while driving in 24 runs and playing a good third base. She is being recruited to play at the next level and one would expect the recruiting trail to heat up for her this spring.
Josie Flom, Kenyon-Wanamingo
Like Richards, Flom was named one of the top 75 junior softball players by The Breakdown. Flom has good pop at the plate, combining it with good plate discipline and bat speed. A bit of a unknown around the area, many will get to know her name this season.
Macy McNally, Winona
It has felt like McNally has been Winona's backstop for close to a decade now. She is finally a senior, coming off a junior year that saw her finish with zero passed balls and throw out 50% of attempted base stealers. She also hit .439 with a .495 OBP on her way to All-Big Nine, All-Section 1AAA and First Team Class AAA All-State selections. She is committed to play at Gustavus Adolphus College.
Madison Hazelton, Winona Cotter
Like McNally, it feels like Hazelton has been firing bullets in the circle for the Ramblers for a number of years now. She is still just a junior and is coming off a sophomore campaign that saw her finish with a jaw-dropping 0.80 WHIP, allowing just 71 hits and 29 walks in 125 1/3 innings. She recorded 221 strikeouts with a 1.23 ERA and was named a Class AA All-State Honorable Mention.
Morgan Erickson, Century
Another promising junior in the area, Erickson earned her second consecutive All-Big Nine honors with a great season at the plate and in the circle as a sophomore. She finished with a 1.49 ERA with 145 strikeouts to just 19 walks. She had an incredible 30-strikeout game against John Marshall in which she pitched 14 innings. At the plate, she hit .414 with a 1.025 OPS and struck out just four times in the entire season.
Cheyenne Jones, Pine Island
The daughter of coach Kim Jones, Cheyenne led the Panthers in every offensive category a year ago, hitting for a .459 average with an OBP of .593 and a slugging percentage of .672. The senior finished with five doubles and a pair of homers in addition to 21 RBIs and hit .481 with runners in scoring position. All-HVL, All-Section 1AA and a member of the All-State Academic Team.
Macy Lembke, Blooming Prairie
The junior is right up there with Mancuso as being one of the fastest in the area. Lembke stole 18 bases and scored 30 runs, while hitting .471 with 11 RBI for the Awesome Blossoms.
Lauryn Delger, St. Charles
Delger is one of the better combinations of speed and power in the area. She hit 11 doubles and five home runs, while driving in 35 runs to go along with 13 steals. She was named a Class AA All-State Honorable Mention.
Alexa Carlstrom, Mayo
Carlstrom did a lot of heavy lifting for the Spartans a year ago. She finished with a 2.44 ERA in 114 2/3 innings in the circle, while hitting .403 with a .467 OBP, 29 RBIs and three homers as just a sophomore. One would expect a leap forward her junior year.
Savannah Hedin, Stewartville
Hedin quietly put together a great sophomore campaign a year ago. She hit .364 with a 1.142 OPS, a .745 slugging%, five home runs and 17 RBIs. Hedin had a great winter for the Stewartville basketball team, most recently hitting the game-winning shot against No. 1 seeded Becker in the Class AAA state semifinals to send the Tigers into the title game.