Senior players will be a strength for the Viroqua High School softball team this season.
“Our group of seniors have been good friends for many years,” coach John Lendosky said. “Their leadership and ability to work together in a family atmosphere will provide a good atmosphere for our entire program.”
Lendosky, who is in his 10th year as head coach, said top returning players include Olivia Thew (center field), Chandlor Volden (left field), Kendra Jerdee (catcher/first base/outfield last year) will be the team’s No. 1 catcher this year, Erica Tryggestad (first base), and Mackenzie Stalsberg, who was in the outfield last year, will be at second base this year.
The team lost some top-notch players to graduation in 2018. Pitcher Natalie Waldenberger, first team all-conference, struck out 165 batters in 133 innings, with a 10-10 record and 2.46 ERA. Madysen Zitzner, center, second team all-conference, the team’s lead-off hitter, led the team in batting average and runs scored. Claire Anderson, shortstop, had the third most stolen bases in VHS softball history. Valerie Buroker was on third base.
“All four of these girls started on varsity for three years,” Lendosky said. ”Natalie Waldenberger’s pitching will be difficult to replace. In order to stay competitive, we will need to make strides in both our hitting and our defense.”
Lendosky said this season’s goal is to improve with each game. “We have several players in new positions defensively, and we want them to get more comfortable there as the season progresses.”
The biggest challenge for the 2019 season, Lendosky said, is the loss of experience at some of the most important defensive positions.
“We will have new faces at pitcher, catcher, shortstop, third base, and second base. To replace these positions, we only have five upper classmen playing softball in our program. Our lack of experience at these positions might show early in the season, but we should show improvements as the season progresses.”
Who are the top contenders for the conference title?
“With the top pitcher in the conference and a good lineup, I think West Salem will win the conference championship,” Lendosky said.
George Hopkins and Kevin Hennessey are the assistant coaches for the team, which had a record of 10-12 (4-8 conference) last season.