Whippets kick off season with tough league games

By Daniel Schoettler

Sports Correspondent

Head coach Ron Sdano said this year’s Whitewater High School softball team is one of the best he has coached.

His Whippets possess a wealth of experience and were scheduled to visit Evansville on Thursday (March 21) and host Jefferson on Friday.

Whitewater returns five seniors in Kailey Ruhl, Catherine Yang, Sara Johnson, Jocelin Beecroft and Autumn Lesar, as well as juniors Zoe Porter, Jacee Johnson, Alyssa Schumacher and Morgan Gransee and four sophomores.

The Whippets also bring back junior Bryce Hibbs, who missed last year due to an ACL tear.

“We have a lot of upperclassmen, including 11 players with experience, so I am really excited for this season,” Sdano said. “Plus, I got back my starting third baseman (Hibbs), who as a freshman was my No. 3 hitter who had an outstanding year. We have her back, and that is going to make a big difference.”

Schumacher was named to the second team Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association All-State second team as the Whippets’ leading hitter, batting .551 with 38 hits and 29 runs batted in.

Gransee was the second leading hitter with 23 hits and a .371 average before she went down late in the season.

“She (Schumacher) is capable of doing that again,” Sdano said of repeating her performance from last year. “She is a girl who will go on to play college softball somewhere. She is very dedicated and hard working.”

Sdano said that he projects Hibbs and Schumacher to bat third and fourth in his lineup.

“I like that combination,” Sdano said. “With the Johnson girls coming back, Morgan Gransee coming back, and Kailey Ruhl, we have a strong team … I think the most talented team I have had in my five years coaching softball.”

Sara Johnson will lead the pitching staff after totaling 95 1/3 innings with a 6-10 record and 4.48 earned run average. Her sister, Jacee, chipped in 12 2/3 innings and went 1-2.

Whitewater finished sixth in the Rock Valley Conference with an 8-9 record and ended 9-14 overall.

Sdano said he expects his team to finish near the top of the conference this spring.

“I see our conference as strong, but I feel that my group will contend and be near the top this year,” Sdano said.

Sdano added that he hopes to use Treyton’s Field of Dreams as a potential spot for games if inclement weather makes the field at the high school unplayable.

“We don’t want to get backed up like we did last year,” Sdano said. “When you get to the end of the year, and you are playing five or six games, it is very tough. It is a benefit if we can use a facility like that, where we can get the games in earlier in the year so we don’t get that backlogged.”

“Evansville wasn’t as good because they were in a rebuilding mode last year, but I expect them to be better this year because they used quite a few freshmen,” Sdano said. “Jefferson has a new coach, but I don’t see them missing a step because they have some strong players coming back. I think it will be competitive with both those teams, and I think our whole league is going to be competitive.”


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