Softball

Head coach Jeff Johnson reported that seven returning starters/letterwinners will be back in the line-up for his Lady Gophers and said, "we should have a very strong hitting team with good defense."

Those seven gals include MaKenzie Miller (senior, left field), Candace Gould (senior, second base), Ashlee Wolter (senior, DP/right field), Sidney Irish (junor, shortstop), Kirsten Keefe (sophomore, center field), Shelby Bernard (sophomore, catcher) and Megan LaPlante (freshman, third base). Irish, Keefe and Miller are two time all-conference performers. Top batting averages for last year's team were Candace Gould (.341), Sidney Irish (.457), Kirsten Keefe (.512), MaKenzie Miller (.351) and Ashlee Wolter (.513).

The Gophers have won the TRC-South eight of the last nine years. Last Year's record was 12-1 in Three Rivers Conference play and 19-7, overall. Chatfield went deep into the playoffs last year, finishing second to Blooming Prairie in the Section 1A Tournament. The Awesome Blossoms finished second in the state tournament, losing in the championship game, 2-1, to Cherry.

"We lost two senior pitchers from last year, said Coach Johnson, but should be OK with nice young pitchers coming up, including junior Jennifer Hanson. There's good pitching in the conference this year, but we expect to finish on top, or close to it, again this year," concluded Coach Johnson.

Coach Jeff Johnson started with the Chatfield program in 2003, and has a 145-69 career record. The Gophers are expected to open their season, at home, Tuesday, April 9, against Rushford-Peterson, with a double-header.



Baseball

"We have the potential to be a very good team," said Coach Brian Baum. "We have two solid starting pitchers and we will have plenty of arms if the games start to pile up; and it looks like it¹s going that way."

Those two returning starting pitchers are Jake Neis and Nate Skare. Last year Neis threw 46 innings, compiling a 4-2 record (1.52 ERA) with 46 strikeouts and 25 walks. Skare was on the mound for 56.1 innings, posting a 7-4 record with 64 K's and 20 walks and an ERA of 2.86.

The Gophers have six starters coming back this season, including Justin Viss (senior, centerfield, .408 BA, 11 rbi, 16r, 12 sb, 1 HR), Jake Neis (shortstop, junior, .359 BA, 12 rbi, 26 r), Zach Eggers (second base, junior, .320 BA, 21 runs, 12 rbi), Mitch Irish (.250 BA, 12 runs, 16 rbi), Nate Skare (junior, first base, .246 BA, 17 runs, 14 rbi) and Sam Fryer (senior, catcher). Tommy Jech also lettered last year, getting 17.1 innings on the mound, with 22 strikeouts and six walks.

Other leading candidates listed by Coach Baum are Sawyer Prinsen (junior, P/3rd), Mark Neppl (senior, outfielder), Noah Grant (junior, 3rd/P), Miles Ahern (junior, second base), Dan Narveson (sophomore, outfield), Drew Hurley (sophomore, P/OF), Ben Pierce (sophomore, OF) and Payton Lund (sophomore, OF/P).

"It will be very interesting this spring, commented Baum. There will be plenty of good pitchers out there. Many teams lost some good key players, but have talented underclassmen. It should be a battle each and every game this spring, and it should be a lot of fun."

Assisting Coach Baum this spring are Craig Ihrke (first year), Nate Vogen (2), Bryan Neis (1) and Mike Urban (13).

Last year the Gophers finished 15-9 on the season, 13-7 in the TRC. The Gophers won their first two playoff games, but then lost back-to-back games to Wabasha-Kellogg and Southland to end their season.



Golf

Once again Paul Wagner will be coaching both the boys and girls golf teams. Last year the boys were 0-12. "We do have experience coming back, said Coach Wagner, and the addition of nine new golfers, grades 7-9, gives me more kids to work with and hopefully something to keep building on for the future of the program."

Here are the returning guys, grade and their average score from last year; Luke Kappers (senior, 46.4), John Hanson (senior, 54.6), Riley Kahroff (junior, 67), Rhett Littrell (sophomore, 77), Christopher Hanson (ninth, 64), Zach Nelson (8th, 76) and Alex Hompe (8th, 61).

The gals were 3-5 in the Three Rivers Conference, 6-5 overall, last year. "WE are young, said Coach Wagner, but hopefully we can get a few of the younger girls to step up."

Morgan Henry (junior, 54.0), All-Conference and Section participant from last year leads the returnees. Also back are Paige Isensee (freshman, 58.6) and Mahara Fahrenholtz (8th, 84).



Track

No information was submitted for the track teams, but they have had a couple of indoor meets and will open the outdoor season this Tuesday, April 9.