Softball: Royals focus on another state trip
Woodbury softball is not about to dwell on the past.
Reaching state for the third straight year, the Royals duked it out with Anoka over 13 innings in the Class AAAA semifinals. In the end, one run made the difference for the Tornadoes with a 1-0 victory, bumping Woodbury to the third-place game, where it lost 1-0 to Chanhassen.
If the Royals plan on making it back to state for the fourth straight time, they'll do so while not letting the Anoka loss linger.
"We will apply what we learned from past seasons to this season," said Woodbury head coach Michelle Welch, "but the fundamentals remain the same. Work hard, play with intensity and have fun."
The Royals had five starters back from last year's 23-4 squad in Kaitlyn Rocco, Anna O'Connor, Amanda Dickmeyer, Jade Boisjoli and Grace Beseman. And already, the chemistry is building.
"Last year's team played together for three years and they were a close family," Welch said. "We are in the process of building a strong family around our returning players. There is a sense of shared leadership this year and that goes a long way. The upperclassmen have done a great job mentoring the underclassmen."
On offense, Welch said the Royals will have plenty of weapons at their disposal, no matter the situation. A year ago, Woodbury led the Suburban East Conference with 7.5 runs scored per game.
"We have a lot of power hitters returning and new ones joining. And we have added a few excellent small-ball executors," Welch said. "We love to hit but will use all the tools in our toolbox."
The pitching circle is more of a question mark after losing its top two pitchers in Ashley Mickschl and Ally Hjort. Mickschl, the team's lone all-state selection, is playing collegiately at Augustana University (South Dakota). Hjort is at St. Benedict.
"We have a young group of pitchers and two exceptional catchers, Kaitlyn Rocco and Grace Beseman, who will bring the pitching staff along as the season progresses," Welch said.
All of Woodbury's games for this week have been postponed, meaning the earliest scheduled game for the Royals is set for Monday, April 16 against White Bear Lake at Ojibway Park.
"We are hopeful to get outside next week," Welch said. "But with the ground still frozen, one never knows in Minnesota."