raiders

Seniors and juniors on the Greenway High School fastpitch softball team are, from left, seniors Claire Glines and Morgan Johnson, and juniors Karley Hansen, Erin Gustason, Emma Daniels, and Kailee Troumbly.

COLERAINE — With a number of players with experience returning this season, the Greenway High School fastpitch softball team is looking to improve on last year’s finish.

In 2017, the end of the Raiders’ season didn’t end up like they wanted it to end, according to coach Katie Sertich, who is entering his sixth season as head coach of the team.

“We lost out in our first playoff game which was a huge disappointment,” Sertich said. “We knew we were better than what we showed and that hopefully will fuel us this year to start off a little bit stronger.”

Greenway lost four seniors to graduation but Sertich said the Raiders had a strong bench last season so those spots vacated by the seniors should be filled adequately.

“I think we are an experienced team,” Sertich explained. “All of our girls who are on the team this year played on our summer ball team together and they played a ton of games last summer. Most of them played at some point last season so there is not really any new things to work with. It is just continuing what we did this summer and the end of last season.”

Greenway returns senior pitcher Claire Glines who Sertich said has been steady for the Raiders for a number of years. Also expected to see some time on the mound is freshman Claire Vekich.

“Claire Glines is healthy and strong; she had surgery last fall on her ankle and now she is back pretty much at 100 percent as far as mobility,” Sertich said. “Ninth grader Claire Vekich will see time on the mound and eighth grader Jadin Saville may see some time as well.”

Freshman Abby Gustason is back as the starting catcher for Greenway while junior Erin Gustason is slotted in to play first base. Freshman Kennedy Hanson will man second base while freshman Vekich will play shortstop when not pitching. Senior Morgan Johnson will be the third baseman. In the outfield will be center fielder Kailee Troumbly, a freshman, junior Karley Hansen will play left field along with seeing time at third base, second base and catcher, and right field will see seventh grader Hannah Anderson, sophomore Grace Groshong, and junior Emma Daniels playing there.

Assisting Sertich in the coaching department again this year will be Mike Vekich and Gina Gould.

When asked what she feels will be keys to a good season for Greenway, Sertich said, “We really need to focus on our defense and our situations of knowing where to go with the ball, that mental part of the game. We are not too worried about the skill part of the game, the fielding and that kind of stuff because everyone makes mistakes doing that. But we don’t want to make the mental mistakes so that is what we have been working on, a ton of different situations.

“Then, obviously pitching is the name of the game in fastpitch, and our batting – which we aren’t going to be able to see what it’s like until we actually get outside – will be important because it is different in a batting cage than it is in real life.”

Greenway plays in Section 7AA and Sertich feels Moose Lake-Willow River, Rush City, Pine City, Aitkin, and Virginia will all field strong teams this season.

“In my mind, we are all kind of on the same level so I think it is going to be a really fun year, especially because who knows when we all will get to play,” Sertich explained. “I think it is going to be throwing all these games in during a three-week span and seeing where we all lie. We don’t know what is going to happen with the weather but at least we are all in the same boat together and we are hoping to get in some games in a dome. But we just have to stay positive and hope that we get at least half of our games in out of our 20 and hopefully some of those are section games so we can get seeded properly.”

Sertich feels the members of the Greenway team proved last year that they are hard workers, and they also are capable of having a good time as exhibited by what transpires in summer ball.

“Being that this group is so young you would think that it would have some issues but they are super athletic and you can’t teach that,” the coach said. “That is something that you are born with and they have it, and they have the drive to want to win and that is a nice thing to have as a coach.”

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