Viking softball team brings the power
Published 11:03 pm Thursday, May 8, 2014
HAYFIELD — When its too cold to practice or play outside, the Hayfield softball team doesn’t complain and it doesn’t pout. It goes to work.
Over the past two seasons, the Vikings have used most of their indoor time to get in the cage and work on their hitting and its paid off this season as the Vikings are hitting .390 as a team and six different players have at least one home run.
“We were inside a lot last year and we started the season off hitting a lot inside this year,” Hayfield senior Dani Wagner said. “That’s helped us a lot. We’re looking forward to a challenge. We just want to keep hitting like we have been.”
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Wagner, who will play softball at the University of Minnesota next season, is hitting .704 with eight homers, two doubles, and 15 RBIs. She wouldn’t have quite as many chances to hit the ball if the Vikings didn’t have a solid lineup around her. Last year, Wagner saw a lot of intentional walks, and she has been walked nine times this year. But now Hayfield can make teams pay for walks as its first four hitters in the lineup are all hitting at least .424.
The Vikings (8-1 overall) are off to one of their better starts in recent history this year and a big part of it is the squad has five seniors and a lot of players with varsity experience.
“We have a lot more confidence this year and we’ve been talking to each other a lot more,” said Grace Walker, who is hitting .424 with 2 homers and 12 RBIs. “We’ve been together for years and we’ve been working together. This year we’re all on the same level and we’re ready to go.”
The Vikings did make once minor change this year. They brought in Hayfield football coach Andrew Weiers and former Hayfield baseball coach Craig Selk to join the team as hitting instructors.
“Our intention wasn’t to come in and re-invent the wheel,” Selk said. “We were just sent in to enhance what they had and that’s been very easy and enjoyable for us.”
Weiers said the Vikings have been great to work with this season.
“The girls are very coachable and its been great to work with,” he said. “There’s just some thing technical things we work on and they pick up on it fast.”
Hayfield lost its first game of the season, but it has rattled off eight straight wins — including a 10-0 win over subsection opponent Kenyon-Wanamingo. Hayfield still hast two very tough games against Cannon Falls and Kasson-Mantorville on the schedule, but the Vikings are hoping to peak at the end of the year.
After falling to eventual state champ Blooming Prairie in the Section 1A title game last year, the Vikings want to make some noise this season.
“Our hopes are pretty high,” said Hayfield senior Jessie Foster, who is hitting .583 with a homer and 10 RBIs. “We want to get to state.”
Hayfield has gotten big hitting this season from Grace Mindrup, who is hitting .500 with three doubles, a triple, a homer and 29 RBIs, Rachel Masching, who is hitting. 33 with four doubles, two homers and 13 RBIs, and Bhrett Zahnle, who is hitting .242 with two homers, a double and six RBIs.