The Blair-Taylor High School softball team wasn’t really sure what awaited it when the season began.
The Wildcats placed second in Division 4 at last year’s WIAA state tournament and not only returned several key players, they returned all of them.
Coach Greg Bratina said that led to more adjustments than anyone anticipated, but the important thing is that they have been made, and Blair-Taylor is rolling again.
“I think there were some things that the players had to learn and some things that I had to learn,” Bratina said on Monday. “One thing we have changed is that we don’t talk about last year at all. I used to use that to motivate the team, but I don’t do that anymore because it wasn’t helping.”
The Wildcats took a 7-1 overall record into Tuesday night’s game against Dairyland Conference foe Eau Claire Immanuel and have won six straight games since losing to Cochrane-Fountain City 5-3 on April 24.
Blair-Taylor won four games last week, and senior left fielder Samantha Fuselier was a big reason for the success.
Fuselier went 13-for-14 with three doubles, two triples, seven RBI and nine stolen bases in those four games after finishing the string with a 3-for-3 performance in a 14-3 win over Eleva-Strum on Friday.
She was a big part of the Wildcats’ state run as a junior, but Fuselier has upped her game as a senior.
“She really came into her own as a player last year, but we’re seeing some different things this year,” Bratina said of Fuselier. “She is beating out a lot of throws to first, but we’re seeing her drive the ball to the gaps more now.”
Fuselier’s first eight games included a .609 batting average and team highs of 18 runs scored, 14 hits and 17 stolen bases. She and Ari Charles have combined for 32 of the Wildcats’ 46 stolen bases with Charles leading off and Fuselier batting second.
“One of the thing you have to remember is that, with her batting second, we ask her to bunt a lot,” Bratina said of Fuselier, who has not made an error this season. “She is a very good bunter, and she is fast enough to beat some of those out, too.”