Cardinal returns five starters from last year’s team that finished 8-11 but the Huskies are rebuilding their pitching staff.
Senior Hanna Traggiai is the only Cardinal pitcher with any high school experience in the circle and she hasn’t thrown a pitch at the varsity level and is returning from a one-year hiatus from the game. Kayla Valentine and Erika Ellis also will see time in the circle this season as they develop their first-year pitching skills.
“Hanna took a year off last year but she did pitch for me a couple of years ago at the JV level. This is the first time she’ll pitch varsity” said Cardinal coach Dennis Ikeler. “She’s improved a whole bunch and she’ll be the starter. Kayla hasn’t pitched and Erica is in her first year. I’m creating new pitchers this year. I’m going to lean on Hanna because she has the most experience. We’ll have to play it by ear and see how things shake out.”
While Ikeler develops his pitching staff, he’ll lean on a capable offense to keep the Huskies in games.
Catcher Faith Peters, shortstop Hannah Hill and third baseman Anne Rupinski all have varsity experience and are among the team’s most consistent hitters.
First baseman Sydney Hahner has played well in the preseason and Ikeler expects her to deliver at the plate this spring.
“Our offense should be OK,” Ikeler said. “I have some good hitters. I’ve got Anne Rupinski, Hannah Hill and Faith Peters. They’ve been good hitters for me. Sydney Hahner is moving into that first base position. She’s got big shoes to fill there. I’m working with her on getting her bat to work.”
Ellis will play second when she isn’t pitching and Cardinal’s outfield consists of Kaitlyn Shantery in left, Alexis Christman in center and Sarah Hogue in right field.
“We have a good returning group but had to move players around to fill in positions from last year,” Ikeler said. “We’ve just got a lot of new people in new positions because we had to replace a lot of seniors. I had to even shuffle my returning lettermen into different spots to fill in some holes. That’s going to be our biggest struggle, getting everyone adjusted to new positions and to break in the new kids.”