Watertown-Mayer softball preview

Head coach: Scott Isakson

Assistant coaches: Ashley Neaton, Kinsie Stifter, Bethany Loether and Ed Rundell.

2016 recap: The Royals were 11-10 last season, and lost to Rockford in the subsection finals and then Holy Family in elimination round of subsection play. Seven players were lost to graduation. All seven of those seniors had starting experience and were leaders for the team.

Returning starters: Emma Duske, Emilie Anderson, Madison Burns, Carli Graff, Nikki McDonald and Morgan Matson.

Returning letterwinners: Emma Duske, Emilie Anderson, Madison Burns, Carli Graff, Abby Derner, Nikki McDonald and Morgan Matson.

Conference outlook: “The favorite in the Wright County Conference is Annandale, Rockford, and Mound-Westonka,” Isakson said. “All three have solid lineups and the quality pitching needed to make a run in the conference and in the playoffs.”

Section outlook: “In section 5AA I believe that Annandale, Maple Lake, Rockford, and Norwood-Young America return teams that could challenge for a trip to state this season,” Isakson said.

Team goals and expectations: “Our goal is to compete for a Wright County Conference title, and be prepared to make a run in the playoffs this season,” Isakson said.

Key losses: Caitlin Kammerer (Gustavus Softball), Shannon Dale (Augsburg Softball), Carly Willette, Megan Kreatz, Anna Barfknecht, Victoria Lynch and Jackie Farniok.

Strengths: “The kids that we have on our roster have put in a lot of time playing ball and improving together in the summer,” Isakson said. “They work hard each day at practice, and they have the work ethic that will help them have the improvement we need to have success this season.”

Areas of improvement: “We need to find athletes to step into the lineup right away, we need continued improvement throughout the season, and we need strong leadership from our seniors.” Isakson said.

Final thoughts: “It looks as though the Wright County Conference and Section 5AA should be strong and very competitive,” Isakson said. “It should be another enjoyable year if you’re a softball fan in the area. Hope to see you at the ballpark.”