2012 Spring Preview: WIll Park softball team surprise once again?A surprise as one of the best softball teams in the state last year, Park will reload with youth in 2012 in hopes of making some more noise.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
A surprise as one of the best softball teams in the state last year, Park will reload with youth in 2012 in hopes of making some more noise.
After starting the year 2-3 in 2011, Park went 13-3 the rest of the way, including winning a championship at its Eastview tournament, while beating No. 1-ranked Burnsville, along with perennial powers Eastview and Eagan. The Wolfpack finished in third place in the Suburban East Conference, topping ninth-ranked Forest Lake twice. In the Section 3AAA playoffs, Park earned a 5-2 win over fourth-ranked Bloomington Jefferson in the quarterfinals before losing to Burnsville 2-1 and to Jefferson 9-2 to end the year.
“What a great season,” Park second-year head coach Bob Loshek said after the year was over. “I think the girls had a very successful season.”
Park only lost three seniors off of last year’s roster, but each were cornerstones of the team the past two seasons in Jessica Kullmann, Courtney Mills and Cassie MacArthur.
Kullmann, who is now with Winona State University was a two-time All-State player as a catcher and short stop. Mills was an All-State third baseman and MacArthur was an All-Conference and All-Section pitcher for the Wolfpack.
Back from last year’s team to help lead the way this spring are senior leader Kayla Hemmingson, junior infielder Mary Turitto and sophomore infielder Samantha Flack.
“With our young team we will be looking to continue to improve from week to week in order to ready ourselves for section play,” Loshek said.
In the Suburban East, defending state champion Hastings is widely regarded as the team to beat this season once again, with Stillwater and Forest Lake not too far behind. In the section, Bloomington Jefferson returns all of their key players that won the section title last year.
“Playing each SEC opponent twice will help our team prepare for our tough section,” Loshek said. “However, by not playing in the Eastview Tournament because of this double round of games, it will hinder our chances of getting a top seed like we did last year by winning the tournament.”
Park opened the season by splitting a double-header against Le Sueur-Henderson on Saturday. Next, the Wolfpack opens conference play with its home opener on Thursday against Mounds View, before traveling to Roseville on Monday.
“The first couple of weeks of games we’ll see where we need to improve our softball skills and awareness,” Loshek said.