Wauwatosa West softball coach Nick Heiting will still have a young team that should continue developing this season.
The Trojans were 8-16 last year and had 11 games where they were victimized by the 10-run rule. They finished 4-11 in Woodland Conference play.
'We should be able to significantly drop that number this year, even with some very tough competition in the Woodland,' Heiting said.
Heiting says the Trojans' goals have to be realistic.
'A good goal for our program right now is to be more competitive,' he said. 'We have 11 players on varsity who are either freshman or sophomores, and the future outlook gets better over the next few years as these girls continue to work hard and get better. We just have to establish a winning attitude and make sure we do the little things right.'
Heiting is looking for more consistent pitching this year, but it may take a while for the offense to kick in.
'Last year we struggled with consistent pitching,' he said. 'Our pitchers worked extremely hard, but they just came in with limited experience and that showed with the number of walks issued. This year we have a little more stability in that area, and that should help us be a little more competitive from game to game.
'Offensively, it will take a while to find all the right pieces beyond the top part of our order. We have a lot of freshmen coming in from the Wauwatosa Shock program, and they will be fighting to earn playing time during the early part of the season. As some of the girls begin to get some confidence and start having success at the varsity level, they will earn more time and will help our lineup solidify to something that will give us some success in May and hopefully a postseason win.
Defensively, the infield should be solid, while the outfield is young and developing.
Leading the way
The Trojans have six returning letter winners.
Sophomore infielder Margaret Radske: She will be making the transition from third base to shortstop with the graduation of Dani Savignac, who is playing at Madison College. Radske hit over .300 last year and will be a central part of the lineup.
Junior Melissa Biefeld: One of the West captains. 'Big things are expected for Melissa this year both offensively and defensively,' Heiting said. Biefeld will catch and also see some time at third and second.
Senior Nicole Mystrow: An all-conference honorable mention selection last year, although her recognition should have been higher according to Heiting. 'With a batting average near .450 in 2015, we are hoping for another big year from her as a catcher/centerfielder.' She is also a captain.
Senior Alli Schumacher: Another tri-captain, Alli led West in innings pitched in 2015, finishing with a 3-8 record. She will have some help with the addition of a couple of freshman pitchers this year.
Senior Lucy Janiszewski: Came up from JV after a few games last year and took over as the starting designated player and rightfielder. 'She will fill a similar role this year, and we hope she can repeat her solid .300-plus average from last season,' Heiting said.
Sophomore Mckenzie Brophey: 'Mckenzie struggled at the plate last year as a freshman but was able to contribute with solid outfield defense. This year she will be moving primarily to left field, and we hope for a good sophomore season offensively,' Heiting said.
Heiting will also be looking to some new faces for help this season.
Junior Olivia Greener: She was only able to play three games in 2015 due to a knee injury. 'Having her back in the lineup full time will be a big help to our offense,' Heiting said.
Freshman Adie Davies: She should see the majority of innings on the mound this year.
Freshman Kaitlyn Nimmer: A solid athlete with potential to contribute as an outfielder and a pitcher.
Sophomore Emma Elliott: She hopes to bring the athletic talent she showed as a basketball player to the diamond this spring. She didn't play last year but will see time at third base.
The Trojans tied Pewaukee on March 22 in a game that was suspended due to darkness.