A powerful right arm: Bay Port softball preview
Bay Port senior Sydney LaPoint (right) slaps hands with the now graduated Natalia Draghicchio in a game last season. LaPoint, a St. Cloud State University recruit, is the reigning Fox River Classic Conference player of the year (Rich Palzewic file photo).
Note: Missing from the video are senior Alexis Tingley and junior Lindsey McQueen.
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – New coach. New team. New season. That’s pretty much the motto of the 2018 Bay Port softball team.
First-year head coach Dave Luedke is putting the pieces together in what he hopes is another successful run at a conference championship and a deep run into the WIAA state tournament.
“We have a good mix of veterans and young talent,” said Luedke, who was an assistant coach with the Pirates from 2008-13. “I’ve been getting to know the kids and I’ve coached a lot of them in the past in youth ball. Until you get outside on the diamond it’s tough to see what you have.”
Luedke takes over for the departed Jenna Woepse, who led Bay Port to a pair of Fox River Classic Conference titles under her watch. The Pirates are coming off a 19-5 overall record a season ago and lost to Pulaski in the sectional semis, 7-4.
This year’s team will likely go as far as senior Sydney LaPoint’s powerful right arm will take them.
After Bay Port won the FRCC title last season with a 16-2 record, LaPoint was selected first-team and co-player of the year. She hit .459 at the plate and was 16-2 on the mound in her 114 innings of work. For the season she struck out 255, walked 14 and had a paltry 1.03 earned-run average. The St. Cloud State University recruit is just 21 strikeouts away from 500 in her illustrious high-school career.
“Obviously when you have someone like Sydney you will be in every game,” Luedke said. “She hits her spots and has good movement on her ball. We have to fill in around her. We also have (senior) Alexis Tingley and (sophomore) Nicole Vandervest who are very capable on the mound. I’m a gut-feel type of coach … I might go outside the box a little bit to manufacture runs.”
Departed due to graduation are Natalia Draghicchio (first team, catcher), Gabby Every (second team, outfield), Maddie Jorgenson (infield), Sydney Johnson (outfield) and Lauren Bertrand (outfield).
Other returning varsity players from last season include seniors Katie Conard (second team, infield) and Allyson Gajeski (outfield); juniors Emma Hock (catcher) and Karigann Wood (outfield); and sophomore Maddy Ehlke (first team, infield), who had five homers as a freshman in 2017.
“I saw quite a few games last year and we lost some excellent players,” added Luedke. “It’s a challenge to replace those lost, but here at Bay Port we always have newcomers.”
First-year varsity players include sophomores Hailey Dickie (catcher) and Kyleigh Schuette (outfield); juniors Jourdan Lee (infield), Olivia Smith (outfield) and transfer-student Lindsey McQueen (outfield).
Luedke tabs Green Bay Preble and Ashwaubenon as other FRCC teams to watch. He also throws Pulaski into the mix despite the Red Raiders losing all-state pitcher Liz Pautz. Luedke feels his team will be right in the chase for another conference title.
The Pirates early-season schedule is favorable, as they play six of their first seven games at home. Bay Port will play in the Stevens Point and Chippewa Falls Invites which should give them a good indication of where they stand in relation to its state-wide competition.
Bay Port’s season opener is Monday, Apr. 2, when they host Green Bay East in a non-conference game beginning at 4:30.
2018 Bay Port Softball Schedule
April 2 – Green Bay East – 4:30
April 3 – Pulaski – 4:30
April 5 – Manitowoc Lincoln – 4:30
April 10 – Green Bay Preble – 4:30
April 12 – @ Ashwaubenon – 4:30
April 13 – Appleton East (DH) – 4:00
April 17 – @ Sheboygan South (DH) – 4:00
April 19 – @ Green Bay Southwest – 4:30
April 21 – Green Bay Notre Dame (DH) – 11:00
April 24 – De Pere – 4:30
April 26 – @ Pulaski – 4:30
April 28 – @ Stevens Point Invite – 10:00
May 1 – @ Manitowoc Lincoln – 4:30
May 3 – @ Preble – 4:30
May 5 – @ Sheboygan North (DH) – 11:00
May 8 – Ashwaubenon – 4:30
May 12 – @ Chippewa Falls Invite – 10:00
May 15 – @ De Pere – 4:30
May 17 – Green Bay Southwest – 4:30
May 23, 25 – WIAA Regionals – TBA
May 29 – WIAA Sectionals – TBA
May 31 – WIAA Sectionals @ Kaukauna – TBA
June 7-9 – WIAA State at Madison – TBA