By Rich Palzewic
GREEN BAY – Most area high school sports fans would say the Green Bay Preble softball team was one of the teams to beat this year.
With a mix of younger talent and three seniors, the Hornets were primed for a run at state before the COVID-19 pandemic ended the spring sports seasons.
The seniors – Lydia Foytik, Keegan Piton and Claire Price – played a combined 11 softball seasons for Preble head coach Ron Metzler, who recently recovered from COVID.
Foytik was a four-year varsity player from her center-field position.
“I think I’d make a good coach because I know lots about softball, but sometimes I also lack patience,” she said. “I’m a slap-hitter, so I had to pay attention a bit more. I have patience when I need it, but I might get frustrated as a coach, too. Let’s just say I have potential.”
She’ll be attending Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to study surgical tech.
Her hobbies include sitting by her pool, hanging with friends and working.
“Keegan and I live kiddy-corner to one another, so we’ll chat over the fence sometimes,” said Foytik, who wishes she could have played basketball or volleyball, too. “I also like to travel. Two years ago, we traveled to Florida on the Gulf (of Mexico) side and went to Treasure Island – the water was super warm. I hate cold water, so I was happy.”
Her most memorable softball moment occurred two summers ago in Mankato, Minnesota.
“Winning nationals with my club team, the Dukes, was exciting,” said Foytik, whose left shin bone is one-half inch shorter than her right one, so she wears a lift in her shoe to balance her legs. “We played four, back-to-back games on Sunday, through injuries and heat to pull it out. It still shocks me to this day we won.”
Foytik said if she could have one wish, it would be to get her senior year back.
“Softball was a huge part of my school experience, but I wish I could go back and see my friends again and experience some of the senior things I missed,” she said.
In 15 years, Foytik said she hopes to be working in a hospital, married with a couple of kids and have two dogs.
She has some interesting advice for incoming freshmen at Preble.
“Despite what you’ll hear, there’s no pool on the third floor,” said Foytik. “Take it one day at a time, and don’t stress yourself out. It’s not as crazy as what you’ll hear. Have an open mind and try new things.”
Piton was a four-year varsity player from her third-base position.
She’ll be attending the University of Wisconsin-River Falls to study field biology/conservation.
“I’m more of an outdoors person,” she said. “I like fishing, hunting and going to the family cabin up north.”
Piton said there were no surprises playing for Metzler.
“We’ve all known Ron from a young age and knew his coaching style,” she said. “When we came into high school, we knew what to expect. I’ve had lots of great coaches over the years, Ron being one of them. He’s intense, enthusiastic and optimistic.”
She said her dream job would be studying sharks.
“Everybody knows I’m a fan of sharks,” said Piton, who will be playing softball at River Falls. “I have to watch ‘Shark Week’ every year. It starts August 9, and I’ll be there. I’ve never been to the ocean before, so it’s a weird dream of mine.”
Piton has a dog, Wilson.
“We had the same dog since I was three years old, but we had to put her down in February,” she said. “Wilson is a cairn terrier and is about four or five months old. He’s teething and has razors for teeth. When he’s tired, he’s the cutest thing.”
She said the best pitcher she faced in high school was Pulaski’s Liz Pautz.
“I faced her as a freshman,” said Piton, whose least-favorite household chore is doing the dishes. “All the upperclassmen were saying how good she was, and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I think my freshman year was my best because I went in having fun and did my best.”
She said Preble is big enough she didn’t know half of the seniors in her class.
“Despite how big it is, it’s not easy to get lost in the school,” Piton said. “Everything is in the same area.”
She said high school sports taught her values like time management and allowed her to meet other people.
“Sports are important in the development of kids,” said Piton. “Sports teach you many things, and you’ll make some of your best friends.”
Price, a catcher, played on the team for three years and will study medical imaging with an emphasis in radiological sciences at UW-Oshkosh.
“I think we could have made it state this season,” said Price. “The talent we had was some of the best we had in a few years. Everyone got along well and cheered each other on. It was sad we didn’t get the chance.”
She likes to sing, dance, show choir, musicals, hanging with friends and work.
“Being a music kid, I listen to a wide variety,” Price said. “Country, pop, rap and musical theatre are on my playlist.”
She said it was worrisome when Metzler contracted COVID-19.
“It was interesting at the same time,” she said. “When we found out, my mom came up with the idea of doing a drive-by parade for him – that was fun and an enjoyable moment. We were all so glad he recovered.”
She said her most embarrassing softball moment occurred when she was 10 or 12.
“We were playing in a tournament, and I was up to bat,” said Price, who doesn’t like running but could run an 8-minute mile if she had to. “I bunted, tripped over my bat, got up, tripped again, ran toward first and tripped again at the bag. I was a klutz. In high school, I was one of the slowest runners on the team.”
She said it was fun playing Ashwaubenon, Bay Port and Pulaski.
“We knew lots of the girls on Bay Port, so I’d say they were our biggest rival over the years,” Price said.
Her college experience this fall will be different, but she’ll go with the flow, she said.
“It will be a challenge to start, but hopefully, we will get back to normal,” said Price. “I’ll have to wear a mask everywhere I go. For high school, I have no idea what will happen. There are lots of scenarios floating around, but I hope for the best and the athletes get their seasons.”