The Rush City softball squad has big designs for 2017, not least of which is a berth in the Class AA state tournament, a level they last reached in 2015.
“We have been fortunate enough to have awesome, hardworking athletes that put in a lot of time and effort into being successful,” coach Kim Erdman said. “Two years ago, we went to state, and last year, and for a few years before that we have been anywhere from one to two wins away from state. Our players set the bar high.”
The Tigers are off to a 3-1 start, taking wins over Crosby-Ironton, Barnum and conference foe Hinckley-Finlayson.
There are two seniors on the team, pitcher Chesney Grant and outfielder Bailey Behrendt. Junior catcher Taylor Williams and sophomore outfielder Maggie Biermaier also bring extensive varsity experience.
Junior first baseman Olivia Erdman, sophomore outfielder Katie Groh and freshman infielders Taylor Voight and Sara Gilbert have also seen varsity action in the past. Junior outfielders Samantha Bauer and Cecelia Peterson will be expected to step up this year, as will sophomores Kaylyn Bowen, Katie McDonald and Brystin LaMont and eighth-grader Ally Rood.
Erdman says his team knows how to balance hard work and fun.
“Team unity has been building this preseason, and it will get even stronger as we spend more time together. We have girls staying late and coming in to hit in the morning, and asking for more reps after practice. These girls like to have fun. They get a little goofy at times – but that is part of what makes coaching these girls so fun,” Erdman said.”
Erdman does not name captains, saying “each girl should lead by example.”
The Tigers hosted Proctor as this edition went to press. They will visit Aitken on April 21, as they head into the heart of their Great River Conference schedule. Rush City has won three conference titles in the past four seasons, but Erdman and his players are focused well beyond the GRC.
“It is nice to do well in the conference and we have been fortunate enough to win it three out of the last four years, but our goal is the playoffs and going as deep as we can,” Erdman said. “We want to get better each game and be playing in late May — and have fun while doing this.”