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New coach for EHS softball team this spring

The Ellsworth High School softball has a new coach and a small roster this spring.

Hailey Breister will be filling for Ryan Casper, whose reserve army unit is in Afghanistan. Breister is a middle school teacher who played some collegiate softball at UW-Oshkosh. She graduated from UWO in December and started in teaching job at the start of the new semester.

“I’m a big believer in girls’ athletics and the success of girls’ athletics depends upon having positive leaders and role models,” Breister said. “I’m glad to have this opportunity to be leader and role model. It’s something I really want to do.”

Also on the staff is assistant coach J Fisk, who was on the staff last season, and Hayley Buchanan, who played four seasons college softball at UW-River Falls.

There are only 13 players on the EHS roster season, only two of them freshmen. One bright spot is the fact eight of them are returning letter winners from last season’s 9-5 squad which finished 8-4 in truncated Middle Border Conference due to last spring’s bad weather.

Back for the Panthers are seniors Ashlee Newhart and Briana DeGross along with juniors Rachel Pieper, Darby DeGross and Jenna George and sophomores Ashley Mazak, Mariah Vogel and Abby Giese.

George and Giese were first team, All-MBC players last season. Ellsworth lost two letter winners to graduation, Morgan Christopher son and Katie Deiss who were both honourable mention All-MBC.

While a roster of 13 isn’t a big number for a program it should do for at least a varsity team, Briester said.

“We’ll have enough players for pinch hitters and courtesy runners,” Breister said. “We have enough for the field. Fortunately, this is a veteran group and they’ll all have roles for the team and be able to compete.”

The only set positions so far - Ellsworth was scheduled to begin its season Tuesday vs. Durand - is the battery as Matzek will pitch and George will catch. Breister said she wished to see players in different positions in the field at first before establishing a line-up for the majority of the season.

In spite of the transitions the program has gone through, Briester said the team’s goals for 2014 season are lofty ones.

“They want to continue the success Ellsworth softball has had over the past season and do better than last year,” Breister said. “So far I’ve been very impressed with the work ethic they’ve put in to make those goals happen.”

Breister said the team’s style of play won’t drastically different than what they’re used to, but perhaps more accentuated.

“We want to be a quick an aggressive team running the bases,” Breister said. “That’s kind of softball we all to play, constant movement and action.”