Youth, depth aiding Pacelli softball to exceptional start

Despite just four upperclassmen on the roster, the Cardinals have soared to an 18-1 start to their season
Published: May. 11, 2023 at 9:57 PM CDT
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STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) - The love for softball is evident at Pacelli. It’s so strong, that some wish it were a year-round sport.

“They want to replace softball season and basketball,” said head coach Ann Molski. “They want softball to be four months long and want softball not to be as short.”

“I would personally agree with that very much,” laughed junior Hannah Trzinski. “Basketball is a very long season. It’s fun in its own way, but softball is definitely where I thrive the most.”

The Cardinals love getting the opportunity to play. It doesn’t stop there though. They back up that love with great results. Pacelli started the season 18-0, outscoring opponents 238-14 in those games. A loss to Mosinee Thursday marked their first of the year. The key to the start rests in not looking past any opponent.

“We don’t take any team lightly,” said senior Laine Ilkka. “We just want to play our best for every single game. We want to show our best skills. Hit it as hard as we can. Field it the best we can and let our skills shine.”

As good as this team has been, their roster isn’t stacked with a lot of veterans. The Cardinals have just three seniors and one junior. The rest of the group is made up of a talented crop of sophomores and freshmen. Even though the upperclassmen group is small though, they still have done an exceptional job bringing the younger players into the fold.

“It’s kind of interesting when you say, the sophomores are the older kids, but that we have three seniors this year,” said Molski. “We have a junior and so out of those four. They’ve really brought those younger girls on board.”

The youth movement has proved to be a strength for Pacelli. Freshman Kaydyn Nelson is a prime example of that. Her 36 RBI rank second among any player in any class in the state. She says she’s been waiting for years to play on the high school stage.

“I’ve been’ playing with the same girls since 7th grade when I started playing,” said Nelson. “I always knew that we had a dominant group and things would go well in high school.”

The bats certainly are a strength as the team is averaging over 13 runs per game and has a team batting average of .439. However, the real uniqueness of the team is their pitching staff. The Cardinals regularly call upon four pitchers in the circle. In her 19 years of coaching, Molski says she’s never used more than two. Having the ability to call upon multiple arms has been a massive help for the team.

“It’s amazing because we know if one pitcher’s not doing as great as they do normally, we can go to Ava (Tess), Amelia (Martini) or Hannah (Trzinski),” said sophomore Peyton Mancl. “We know they have our back either way and they can get it done.”

While the start has been impressive, the team is still laser-focused on the postseason path ahead of them.

“This team is really different in a good way,” said Ilkka. “We all have great chemistry with each other. We have a lot of fun on and off the field.”

“I don’t want to take away from how we’ve been playing, because it’s been an amazing season and I’ve made amazing memories and lifelong friends already,” said Trzinski. “For softball, we need to keep hungry and know that we have our eyes on the prize and not lose sight of that.”