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Redhawk softball look to senior leadership in 2019

May 25, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Traer Star-Clipper

Head Coach: Patty Calderwood

2018 Record: 8-15 (L in Regionals to Janesville)

The North Tama softball team took away several positives from last season's team, including several upperclassmen leading the Redhawks to a five-game winning streak and underclassmen who continued to develop as the summer went along. With the pitcher/catcher duo of Tessa Dvorak and Olivia Schrier graduated, new faces will occupy the mound and behind the plate as the undermanned Redhawks work on an identity under coach Patty Calderwood.

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"Some years North Tama softball has had big teams with tons of talent and some years it's had small teams with a lot of heart," Calderwood said. "I get excited each year for the opportunity to be around a game I love and where I get to build relationships with some pretty awesome girls."

This year's team may fall best under the latter category due to several injuries on the roster. Returning letterwinners Meg Popelka and Hailey Stover will sit out for an unknown amount of time, yet the Redhawks also return the All-Conference talent Carissa Calderwood and Rylee McLean, alongside seniors Molly Kvidera and Chloe Feisel. Calderwood will be asked to play catcher and McLean pitcher, leaving shortshop to State track qualifier Kvidera and the outfield to a crop of underclassmen talent looking to prove themselves. Emmy Bradley will fill Kvidera's previous spot at second to begin the season.

"I'm excited most to see how this team improves and these underclassmen step up," Carissa said. "We lost a couple of good seniors last year, so it's interesting to see how we will fill those spots and their production,"We've had a lot of people come to work on batting this offseason, myself included. Those underclassmen will get a lot of experience as we go through the season."

Calderwood notes these letterwinners come in with game experience and "an excellent knowledge of the game" and talented underclassmen such as McLean and Popelka who "are working really hard to improve their skills." Initially, the two sophomores worked over the offseason with Carissa and Sable Fehr on pitching, but a shoulder injury to Popelka leaves questions to be answered over the season.

"We add to that a young and pretty inexperienced group of underclassmen, but everyone is working hard at practice and we are seeing constant improvement in their skills and their confidence," Calderwood said. "The infeild will fill out with Chloe Feisel returning to 3rd and Sable Fehr at first base. With the Stover and Popelka injuries we pull Riley out of Centerfield so we are working our underclassmen pretty hard to see who is going to step up and make the plays out there for us. I couldn't even begin to tell you who will be in the starting spots out there. it's literally wide open. This group of underclassmen don't have much experience but they have heart and I'm excited to see them grow throughout this season."

As noted by Carissa, the team has spent their off season working on their hitting, returning Carissa with 21 runs, McLean with 20 runs, Kvidera with 18 runs, and Fehr with 14 runs from 2018.

"Our offense this year has the potential for some pretty good sticks," Calderwood said. "The girls have been taking preseason cuts in the cage and have a great desire to improve on their batting averages from last year. We've got some girls with the ability to join the 'dinger club' this year and that's exciting. How it will all shake out is up to them and their commitment to the game."

The Redhawks also welcomed Bailey Eisemann from Britt, who is currently a student at UNI working to add a K-12 PE and Health endorsement to her Bachelors degree in Sports and Recreation Management from the University of Iowa. According to Calderwood, Eisemann has been getting to know the girls and is working hard to help them improve their skills this season

"A successful year to me is having fun, staying positive and doing the best we can. We have a great conference and everyone brings their best game," Carissa said. "We have a lot of young kids out this season along with us four seniors.

The Redhawks opened their season hosting Colo-Nesco on Monday, May 20 before they hit the road to Baxter on Friday, May 24 and then Jesup for a varsity tournament on Saturday, May 25.



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