Team: LHS softball
Head coach: Kris Gustin
Assistant coaches: Mark Hill and Abby Turbes
Conference: Minnesota River
Section: Class A, Section 2
2013 finish: With an extended winter last season, the Crusaders’ regular season schedule was compacted into double-headers against conference teams. In those game, Mayer Lutheran finished 0-12. In four games, it was called after five innings for the 10-run rule. The Crusaders hardest loss of the season was a 30-1 loss to Tri-City United. In a game against Sibley East, Mayer Lutheran posted their highest score of the season, seven runs. The season ended with the team’s best game of the year, a 6-0 loss to Buffalo Lake-Hector in the Section 2A playoffs.
Key returning players: The Crusaders were hindered by a lack of experience last season, but with no graduating seniors in 2013, many faces have returned for LHS. All-Conference shortstop Josie Peters and All-Conference Honorable Mention catcher Krianna Boelke return as seniors, along with Kim Hafemann and Liz Pawelk. Peters and Boelke led at the plate, with batting averages of .367 and .273, respectively. Rachel Zittergruen also returns this season and was the team’s lead pitcher in 2013. She finished the year with a .243 batting average. Other returning players include: juniors Cailey Benkowski, Lori Zacharias, and Rebecca Gaida, and sophomores Samantha Klatt, Amanda Trost, and Laura Welk.
Key newcomers: Freshmen Sophie Flucas, Emilee Gustin, and Kate Strehlke join the Crusaders this season, rounding out the roster to 14 players.
Teams to beat: Provided the snow melts in a timely manner, the Crusaders have scheduled a variety of non-conference teams to their schedule, in hopes of playing teams and programs more their size, including many from the MCAA conference like Heritage Christian and West Lutheran.
Goals: For the fourth consecutive season, the Crusaders have a new head coach. LHS girls’ basketball coach Kris Gustin has taken over the softball team and hopes to stay. With no feeder program to draw from, Gustin said his main goal for the team this season is to get better.
“It’s learning and teaching those fundamentals,” he said.
Gustin doesn’t have a softball coaching background, but has played the game in the past. He said he plans to look for the most teachable moments this season.
“I’m a teacher at heart and that’s really what coaching is,” he said.
First game: The Crusaders kick off the season April 8 at Belle Plaine. and are at home April 10.
Contact Melissa Marohl at email@example.com