No graduating seniors means no tearful good-byes and no holes to fill in the lineup for the Mayer Lutheran softball team next season.
Next season, the Crusaders will be led by two seniors in regular shortstop Josie Peters and catcher Krianna Boelke, both of whom captained the team this season. Peters was the only All-Conference honoree this season, while Boelke earned All-Conference Honorable Mention honors.
The Crusaders struggled throughout the season, ending with a 0-13 record and last in the Minnesota River Conference at 0-12, trailing Sibley East (2-5). Due to the late start to the season, the schedule was compacted into seven doubleheaders against each of the conference teams. Four times, the Crusaders had games called after five innings due to significant leads by the other team. The worst deficit of the season came in a 30-1 loss to Tri-City United on May 14.
Mayer Lutheran did have three games where they were able to keep the scoring gap at 10 runs, against Sibley East (11-1 on May 2), Belle Plaine (12-2 on May 9), and Tri-City United (13-3 on May 14). The Crusaders scored their highest number of runs, seven, in the second game against Sibley East.
Perhaps LHS’ best game of the season came during the play in round of the Section 2A tournament. Although they lost to Buffalo Lake-Hector, the Crusaders lost by only a margin of 6-0, their smallest margin of loss yet this season.
Mayer Lutheran head coach Dan Young said it was apparent that the Crusaders became better players as the season progressed.
“All the players as a whole improved as the season went on and they stayed committed to trying to improve themselves and build to make themselves stronger for next year’s campaign,” he said.
He said lack of experience, a downside of having no seniors, played a role in the shortcomings this season.
“We were in most games score wise until around the fourth inning and then we seemed to fall apart. That probably can be attributed to our lack of experience,” he said.
At the plate, Peters led the Crusaders with a team high batting average of .367 and an impressive on base percentage of .528. Boelke batted .273 and had a .382 on base percentage. Rachel Zittergruen rounded out the top three at the plate with a .243 average and a .297 on base percentage.
Young said he learned a great deal in his first year at the Crusaders’ head coach and plans to return next season.
“I told the girls if they are committed and dedicated to building this program back to what it once was years ago, I would be back as coach next year,” he said. “If each player is dedicated to becoming the best they can be we will improve as a team and will grow and see improvements next year.”
Contact Melissa Marohl at [email protected]