SPRING VALLEY -- By no means has this season been what any senior hopes for.
By no means has this been a dream coaching debut for first-year coach Hannah Zurn.
But the two-win Spring Valley prep softball team continues to fight and continues to learn valuable lessons as the season draws to a close.
“As a senior, you learn a lot of leadership,” senior Katy Schreiber said. “Out on the field we have to always be positive and talk people up. No matter what the game situation is, trying to be positive is important.”
Schreiber said that’s something that will help her after high school.
“You always have to make the best of things,” Schreiber said. “No matter what the situation is in life you have to stay positive.”
After Plum City junior Ellie Funk hit her eighth home run of the year to make the score 15-5 in the fifth inning in the Cards loss to Plum City Friday, May 19, it would have been easy for the Cardinals to mail it in. Instead, the Cardinals battled back to extend the game. The Blue Devils won the game, 15-6.
“This has actually been really awesome to teach them,” said Zurn, who played softball for four years at UW-River Falls. “I feel like this is something that I really am supposed to be doing. Everything that I’ve learned as a player coming up, I get to share with these girls, who have learned so much about softball. I get to pass that on.
“That’s been rewarding for me.”
Zurn agreed that she had taken things for granted in her softball career and has been reminded of a variety of small details that she forgot to appreciate throughout her career.
“It makes me appreciate everything I had in my career,” Zurn said. “When you grow up playing softball, you don’t think about the big picture. When I see the little things that make the girls so happy.”
In their loss to Plum City, Zurn pointed out the excitement that Ally Lee had when she hit her first home run of the season as something that Zurn took for granted in her career.
“Playing in college, we hit a lot of home runs, so we weren’t as excited when we hit one as she was,” Zurn said. “To see that smile as she was running around the bases was really cool. It was a reminder of things I had taken for granted for sure.”
Lee was happy to have “finally hit one” this year.
“I hit two of them sophomore year, but it was good to finally hit another one,” Lee said.
What was going through her mind when she was going around the bases?
“Finally,” Lee said.
Lee said she feels like the team has been close in a lot of games, but would give up one big inning that would keep them from competing and potentially winning more games.
Schreiber agreed: “There were so many that we were close to winning, but we have one bad inning.”
Senior Grace Larson said the team has shown a lot of improvement with their new coach.
“It was one of those rebuilding years,” Larson said. “It wasn’t the best softball season, but to help the freshmen and sophomores -- it’s good to do things the right way.
“Every year we learn different things, but this year coach Zurn showed me a different way to bat. She just told me not to drop my hands and that helped a lot.”
As the losses have piled up, there has been one constant for the Cardinals.
“I told them I was going to make this season fun,” Zurn said. “No matter what happens on the scoreboard, we can have fun.
“And then there has been so much growth and improvement from them, that it has been fun for me.”
Said Schreiber, “Everyday we come to practice she made sure we knew we had to play with confidence. … No matter what the score is we always have fun.”