YUTAN – Graduation losses and a devastating transfer have left veteran Coach Brett Kmiecik with a multitude of challenges heading into the 2019 softball season.
The Yutan-Mead Patriots return just three starters off of last seasons’ 17-17 squad.
The Patriots will have to replace starting pitcher Paige Timperley, who won 13 games and pitched 161.2 innings last season. Timperley also hit .436 and led the team with four home runs.
Also gone is junior Rylie Jones who transferred to another school district. Jones started every game at third base and hit .472 with a team best 50 hits.
Jordan Hancock and McKinley Josoff also graduated after combining for 66 hits and 58 RBI last season.
“We will be a very young and inexperienced team with just three seniors being the only players with extensive varsity action,” said Kmiecik.
Senior shortstop Molly Davis is back after a solid campaign on the diamond as a sophomore.
Davis hit .308, scored 30 runs and led the team with 17 steals a year ago. Davis also brings stability to an infield with a vacuum glove and a strong arm.
Also back is versatile senior Rachel Steinauer.
Steinauer can play multiple positions and swings a steady bat in the middle of the Patriot line-up. She hit .384, finished second on the team with 31 runs scored and swiped 14 bags.
Starting second baseman Hope Kult, another senior, also returns this fall for the Patriots.
Kult hit .351 while starting all 34 games in 2018.
The only pitcher returning with any varsity experience is sophomore Laura Kuhr. Kuhr threw only 7.2 innings last season.
The Patriots will also be in the market for a catcher after Josoff started 31 games behind the plate a year ago.
Sophomore Emily Hebenstreit also returns this fall after appearing in all 34 games last season as a freshman.
She hit .205 in 89 at bats.
Yutan-Mead will open the year with a tournament in North Bend on Aug. 24.
The Patriots will play two tournaments and four other contests on the road before finally getting a home game at Hayes Field against Bishop Neumann on Sept. 10.
The state tournament will be played in Hastings on Oct. 16 through 18.