Big group of letter winners on Spring Valley softball team in 2014.
SPRING VALLEY - Being a returning letter winner on a prep or collegiate team doesn't necessarily mean the athlete has a lot of playing experience.
But several of the 10 returning letter winners on the Spring Valley High School softball team were able to get playing time last season due to both the weather and injuries.
Valley graduated five seniors: All Dunn-St. Croix Conference selections Megan Manor and McKenna Mattison along with Alex Larrieu, Emily Hofacker and Rachel Samdahl. Returning letter winners for the 2014 season are All D-SC pick senior Nevada Schlegel, fellow senior Tana O'Keefe, juniors Alison Von Haden, Ellen Brorson, Maria Nygren, Faith Anderson and sophomores Hannah Silverling, Jessica Christensen, Rachel Franzen and Bailey Manor.
"We'll miss our seniors but our letter winners saw playing time and stared some games last year," SV head coach Amy Shafer said. "So we have more experience than some teams would in the same situation."
Bailey Manor and Alison Von Haden are slated to pitch with Silverling catching. The team's seniors, Schlegel and O'Keefe, will handle the left-side of the infield with Schlegel at third and O'Keefe at shortstop. Schlegel is also the team's top returning hitter. She had a strong first-game at the plate last week when she went 4-for-4 with two RBIs against Elk Mound in the Cards' season opener.
"Nevada, with her experience and talent, is someone we can play in a variety of different spots to help the team." Shafer said.
Shafer calls Nygren the "rock" of the outfield as she returns to centerfield with Brorson and Franzen in the outfield. Brorson is also one of the top returning hitters from last season as well along with Von Haden, O'Keefe and Nygren.
Valley finished 8-11 overall and 7-9 in the conference last season and many of those losses were close ones. Shafer said those losses can be turned around into wins.
"I tought our hitting was good but we need to improve our defense," Shafer said. "If that happens and we can avoid injuries, we be a better team."
Spring Valley hosts Elmwood/Plum City this afternoon at 5 p.m.