De Pere, Seymour softball battle Mother Nature
By Rich Palzewic
BROWN COUNTY – They were simply happy to be on a field playing softball.
Because the De Pere High School field was unplayable April 5, the Redbirds and Seymour changed on the fly and moved their scheduled game to Scray Hill Park in Ledgeview.
“I want to thank De Pere Youth Baseball for allowing us the opportunity to use the facility,” De Pere Head Coach Travis Piper said. “They were more than happy to accommodate us.”
Because the field didn’t have a pitching circle, the batter’s box was shorter than normal and the fences were deeper than a regulation field, the contest wasn’t an official game.
For both teams, it was the first time they’ve been on a softball field all season.
“We got to play softball,” Piper said. “Not many teams are getting that opportunity with the weather right now.”
Seymour Head Coach Karri Vanden Langenberg said it’s been a frustrating spring.
“We’ve been in the gym since the start of the season,” she said. “It’s hard, for sure. You have to work out lots of kinks. We’re appreciative of De Pere letting us still play – the joys of spring weather. Our poor field (in Seymour) doesn’t even have bases on it yet.”
De Pere to ride youth this season
With only two seniors on the De Pere roster, Piper, in his first season at the helm, said it might take a few games for his team to gel.
“We only have two seniors, but we have a good core group of juniors who have played together for a while,” he said. “I don’t think this is a one-year thing. We have the talent to compete this season and in the future. We’d love to have more than two seniors, but we can compete now.”
Piper said his team’s attitude is a strength.
“I can only base it on what I’ve seen in practice the last four weeks in the gym and this one game,” he said. “The girls want to compete – they know they can put it together. We have a good pitching staff, good catchers – we’re deep there – and deep defensively. We have to put the ball in play and manufacture runs.”
Piper said it will be the usual teams at the top of the ever-tough Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC).
“It seems like a broken record, but Green Bay Preble is the catalyst,” he said. “Pulaski, Bay Port and Ashwaubenon will also be a challenge.”
The Redbirds finished 9-15 overall and 7-8 in the FRCC last season.
Seymour also to lean on youth
Vanden Langenberg, in her 10th year as head coach, said her squad is young.
“We have six seniors, but only three of them are starters,” she said. “I’ve got two freshmen pitchers, a freshman catcher and left fielder and sophomores at the corners (in the infield). I’m looking for good things, despite our youth.”
Those freshmen pitchers are Gillian Herrala and Corinne Setliff.
Vanden Langenberg said she’ll rely on her team’s hitting strength this season.
“I like how aggressive we are at the plate and the base paths,” she said. “We have to keep that going – we’re known for that.”
Seymour won the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 2 state title in 2019 but finished 11-6 overall last season and 8-4 in the Bay Conference.
“(Seniors) Samantha Nieland and Adrianna Volz were on that state team as freshmen,” Vanden Langenberg said. “Samantha made the last two outs in both state games.”
Vanden Langenberg said the Bay Conference is a “crazy conference.”
“I feel bad for New London because they lost their starting pitcher (Paeton Kringel, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay commit) to an ACL tear during basketball,” she said. “Despite that, they’re a great team – they have excellent hitters and good defense. Shawano has a first-year coach, and (the) West De Pere (coaches were) here watching tonight. (West De Pere Head Coach Jennifer Timm) is showing she can pull a team together and play. I think Menasha is the team to beat this year, though.”