Tigers softball loaded up for another run

Goal is to get back to state for Farmington

Farmington’s Ashley Betzold throws out a pitch during the 2012 season. She’s one of the top returning players in the Missota Conference this season. (Photo by Andy Rogers)

Farmington’s Ashley Betzold throws out a pitch during the 2012 season. She’s one of the top returning players in the Missota Conference this season. (Photo by Andy Rogers)

Last season was one for the record books in Farmington for softball.

The Tigers won the Missota Conference title and make its second appearance at state in school history in June.

In his second year has head coach, Paul Harrington has seen a invigorated spirit in spring practice.

“There seems to be a different attitude this year, as all the girls are in-tune with making a return trip back to the state tournament again,” he said. “Last year at this time it wasn’t even on their radar. The girls have come into tryouts with a great attitude and are working hard. It seems like we are a much more cohesive group this season.”

Few positions in any sport matters as much as the pitcher does in softball, which is a strong spot for Farmington. Ashley Betzold is back after leading the team in the pitchers’ circle for years.

She won 17 games last spring with a 1.98 ERA and a varsity pitcher since eighth grade. She’s also a force at the plate hitting .415 during the season along with two home runs at state.

“From her workouts, it is looking like she has picked up some speed, but will know more when the snow finally melts and we get out on the ballfield,” Harrington said. “As always, it is looking like she is swinging a good bat, which will also be a key factor for our success this year.”

Going into this season, Betzlod is the Tigers’ top asset, but she won’t be able to do it on her own.

“As I have said more than once, she gives us a chance to win every time we take the ballfield,” Harrington said. “But in order to win, we still need to give her strong defensive support and hit the ball and score some runs for her.”

The Tigers are stocked with several versatile and speedy players.

One of the key members is Toni Hunsinger, who made the all-Missota conference list a year ago.

“Toni is solid and can play anywhere we put her,” Harrington said. “She can pitch, catch, play outfield or any infield position. She helps make us a little more versatile on defense which makes it a little easier on the coaching staff.”

They are joined by underclassmen Jordyn Keprios, McKenzie Nelson, Molly Berdan, Amber Doyle, and Taylor Yousse who all played a role in the team’s state tournament run in 2012.

The Tigers lost four key members in Taylor Haakana, Brooke Searles, Erin Wurst and Allie Rice to graduation leaving holes in the outfield. Unfortunately, it’s been covered with snow leaving the team scrambling to fill the positions.

“Hopefully the snow melts soon, so we can get outside to hit some flyballs to see what we got,” Harrington said. “We need our younger kids to step up and earn a spot or some of our veterans to head to the outfield.”

Losing Rice’s power at the plate and catcher’s mitt will be a challenge as well.

“That offensive power is a huge hole which will be difficult to replace,” Harrington said.

But the Tigers are certainly not the only team with some turnover and the desire and goal remains the same: Get back to state.

Harrington will also have a new face helping him out in the dugout this season. He lost assistant coach Trevor Monroe, who is now the head Eastview softball coach, over the offseason.

He replaced Monroe with another veteran coach well known in the south metro Randy Schmitz, who coached several teams to state as the head coach for Lakeville North including runner-up finishes in 2005 and 2001.

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