Youthful Indians softball off to 4-1 start
Team looking to replace three All-Suburban choices
Menomonee Falls - The post-Hailey Mohrfeld era is underway for the Menomonee Falls girls softball team and so far the Indians are surviving having gone 2-1 and taken fifth in the powerhouse Germantown Invitational on Saturday.
"Things are a bit different," said veteran Indians coach Wendy Wolff of the absence of the NOW All-Suburban player of the year as well as two other All-Suburban choices. "We have some good leaders out there, but they have to realize that they need to step up and provide the leadership and spark that we need."
Mohrfeld went to UW-Green Bay and the Indians lost their battery in All-Suburban choices Nicole Zywiec (pitcher) and Hailey Wilson (catcher). Despite that, Falls is 4-1 overall and entered the week tied for the Greater Metro lead with West Allis Hale and Sussex Hamilton (which they took on on Monday).
Senior steps up to mound
Senior Nikki Festge will finally get a full-time gig as starting pitcher after backing up Zywiec, while junior Jamie Ertl will move from third base to catcher. Rachel Defnet is a four-year starter in center field while junior letter winner Maddie Eikenmeyer is off to a good start, playing right field and hitting cleanup. Another returnee, senior Nicole Weggen, is playing second base.
Also in the outfield will be juniors Rachel Kemnitz and Sam Schwartz.
Wolff has also gone with a youth movement in certain positions, and it's no big surprise that Mohrfeld's sophomore sister Claire is handling big sister's former spot of shortstop. Freshman Brittany Robinson is playing third base and leading off while Ertl's freshman sister Justine Ertl is playing first.
Another frosh, Nicole Berglund, will back up Festge at pitcher and also play other positions.
"We have a lot of challenges," admits Wolff of trying to get to the excellent 19-2 GMC championship season the Indians recorded last season. "We lost some great players, but what will help us this season, is that we don't have a lot of drop-off after our starters. We did think that defense would be a strong suit to start the season but we didn't have a very good day (on Saturday).
"We will be a fast team."
Jamie Ertl, Eikenmeyer and Defnet are the tri-captains.
"They're doing a good job, making others feel like they're part of the team," said Wolff. "We had such strong leaders last year, but we need to develop them from year to year."
Taking two of three
In the tournament on Saturday, the Indians beat Kettle Moraine Lutheran, 6-3, lost to runner-up Muskego, 6-1, and beat West Bend West, 6-5.
Defnet made a statement late in the day, as she hit a booming home run to break a 5-5 tie and beat West in the fifth-place game as Festge finished off the day strong with 11 strikeouts.
"That's an unforgettable way to win a game," said Wolff.
After Hamilton, the Indians took on Wauwatosa East on April 24, West Allis Central on April 25 and will visit West Allis Hale at 4:15 p.m. April 27 as they look to defend their GMC crown.
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