Talented pitchers give Whitnall softball team optimism
Greenfield, Huskies, Central also start year
A strong one-two pitching punch should keep Whitnall's softball team competitive during the 2012 season.
Senior Carolyn Dudek will be the top hurler, while sophomore Carly Wagner will take the second spot for the Falcons.
First-year coach Tom Hickman, who takes over for Gary Caliva, said the two have different pitching styles.
"Carolyn is a great power pitcher who can dial it up and go for a strikeout virtually anytime during a game," Hickman said. "Carly is a control pitcher who changes speeds well and relies on good movement and pitch placement to get her outs.
"She (Wagner) will have to pitch some big innings this year for us to have a successful season. The workload will not fall solely on Carolyn."
Both pitchers looked solid in the Falcons' first two games last week. Wagner tossed a five-inning two-hitter and struck out six in a 13-0 romp over St. Francis on March 28, while Dudek gave up one hit and fanned 13 in five innings as Whitnall blanked Wauwatosa West, 21-0, on March 27.
"Carolyn was fantastic in her first time out this year," Hickman said. "She was moving the ball all over the zone and changed speeds well. If she can consistently hit her spots, she is very hard to hit."
Against St. Francis, sophomore Ann Bay belted a home run and freshman Kim Robinson was 2-for-2 with a double. Both drove in two runs, along with senior Maria James, junior Leah Jenk and junior Amber Rueth.
The Falcons had nine hits in the victory over Tosa West, with Bay posting a triple and junior Lizzy Menden and Robinson each lining a double.
"Maria (James) has taken over at shortstop for us this season," Hickman said. "She's probably the most athletic girl on the team and could play anywhere on the diamond.
"Rueth and Menden are returning varsity players and both will be counted on to help carry the load, along with Bay."
Overall, the Falcons are inexperienced, with only five players who saw significant time on varsity for last year's 12-8 squad.
"The team has a lot of talent up and down the roster and as they get more game experience, they have the potential to surprise some teams this season," Hickman said.
The Falcons are one of four area teams who will take to the diamond before spring break.
The Hustlin' Hawks, a perennial power, certainly have proved that they will be able to hit this season.
Pitching, though, may be another question.
Greenfield downed Pewaukee, 13-9, on March 29 and dropped an 18-8 decision to Greendale on March 27 in the 2012 season opener.
Leading the way in the victory over the Pirates were Kayla Culbertson, Cat Dorobilski and Luci Krenzke, all sophomores. They each went 2-for-4, with Culbertson driving in three runs and Krenzke a pair.
Greenfield tallied nine runs in the fifth inning to break open a close game and improved to 1-1 on the season.
In the earlier game, the Hawks built a 4-0 lead in the first inning, but the Panthers tallied five in the bottom of the first. Greendale held a 10-8 advantage in the sixth, then put away the game with eight runs. The two teams combined for 13 errors.
Greenfield, which went 19-7 last season, has just two seniors, Amber Polachek and Lynn Pipke. The Hawks also have six sophomores on this year's roster.
West Allis Hale
The Huskies return several key contributors from last year's 17-3 squad.
They include juniors Rachel Seefeldt and Jenny Schmidt and sophomore Sarah Mueller, who will make the switch from first base to pitcher this season.
"Our strength this year will be our offense, as Rachel, Sarah and Jenny were the leading hitters last year," head coach Kay Nichols said.
Nichols also welcomes four freshmen, Emily Navarette, Teara Morgenroth, Tyler Jeschke and Karissa Tejeda.
"We feel they will be making key contributions," Nichols said. "We are hoping that they will help with the short game and the running game."
The Huskies were supposed to open the season on Friday against Waukesha South, but that game was rained out. They were set to take on Brookfield Central on Tuesday of this week in the final game before spring break.
West Allis Central
The Bulldogs started the 2012 season with a 13-3 loss to Catholic Memorial on March 27.
Senior Halie Weigel doubled and sophomore Alex Craig tripled and drove in one run for the Bulldogs, who are trying to bounce back from a 2-16 campaign.
Senior Amy Nycz pitched four innings and took the loss for Central, which tallied all of its runs in the fourth inning.
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