After back-to-back appearances, the Pacelli High School softball team is looking to make another run to the State Tournament this season.
Last season the Cardinals advanced to the WIAA Division 3 State Championship Game for the second year in a row, where they beat Poynette 8-3 to claim the Division 3 State Title.
Pacelli returns five starters from last year’s team, and barring another weather delay, is set to open its season at Weyauwega-Fremont (3-7) Thursday, April 18.
“Last year, everyone expected us to get back down to state,” said Pacelli softball head coach Ann Molski. “And I just told the girls, ‘take each game one at a time, play the best ball that we can play, and let the chips fall where they may.
“And we ended up putting some really good ball together and going down there and winning,” said Molski. “This year, they’re really driven, and they want to do what they can to get back down to state again.”
After advancing to the 2011 State Championship Game and finishing with a 27-1 record, the Cardinals returned to Madison last year, where they knocked off defending champion Poynette in the State Championship to claim the WIAA Division 3 State Title and end their season with a 25-3 record.
Pacelli lost five starters from a year ago in Wisconsin Fastpitch Coaches Association (WFCA) Second-Team All-State third baseman Danielle Hoover, pitcher Cassie Nelson, left fielder Amy Miskowski, right fielder Callyn Haupert and designated player Alicia Wimme, who finished second in the state with 53 RBI last season.
“We lost some big hitters,” said Molski. “But we have girls that have been working all of this time to step up into that role.”
The Cardinals return five starters from last year’s squad that hit .425 as a team, led by senior shortstop and four-year starter Anna Lensmire, a WFCA First Team All-State selection and the Central Wisconsin Conference-8 (CWC-8) Player of the Year last season after she hit .515 with five home runs, 33 RBI and 48 runs scored.
Also back in the infield are a pair of returning starters in senior first baseman Marisa Rice and senior second baseman Lauren Jurgella, an honorable mention All-CWC-8 selection last year.
“Anna had a great year last year, and she’s really a solid leader in that infield,” said Molski. “Lauren’s back and those two have played in the middle together for three years, and they’ve developed a really good working relationship.