Barnum softball looks young on paper, strong on the diamondAs a catcher for Cloquet, Sarah Yrjanson played quite a few varsity softball games for the Lumberjacks growing up. Now the coach at Barnum, she’s got nothing on senior catcher Karianna Duesler, however.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
As a catcher for Cloquet, Sarah Yrjanson played quite a few varsity softball games for the Lumberjacks growing up.
Now the coach at Barnum, she’s got nothing on senior catcher Karianna Duesler, however.
“I have been here a long time,” said Duesler with a laugh before school Tuesday morning. “This is my sixth season.”
Duesler has been a part of the Bombers’ varsity program since she was a seventh-grader. Back then, Duesler said, she played a pair of seasons at second base before moving behind the plate.
As Barnum’s starting catcher since her freshman year, Duesler was vital in the school’s Class A state runner-up finish in 2010. She will be looked upon to pace the Bombers again as they enter the 2012 season.
“I’m just trying to be a leader,” Duesler said. “We have some girls who aren’t as experienced at varsity, but I just tell them to play with confidence and not to be scared out there. It’s still early, but I think things will click.”
Although the Bombers may look young on paper – sporting only two seniors and one junior –Yrjanson said the underclassmen can play. Returning a number of players from last year’s 14-6 squad and Section 5A runner-up finish, Yrjanson has had a positive evaluation early in April.
With a dozen underclassmen on the official roster, make that the Barnum’s future as well.
“What I am excited for is our young kids coming up throughout varsity,” Yrjanson said. “The next couple years here are going to be unbelievable. It’s going to be awesome. We really have some smart ball players with some really good talent.”
Yrjanson added that seniors Duesler and Allainie Hanek-Siltanen and junior Paige Rilea will be huge contributors, both on and off the field.
“Those three are going to be the core for us,” Yrjanson said. “We have a very young team, but I have a lot of confidence in them.”
Yrjanson didn’t forget to note top pitcher Lauren Hultgren is back, too. As a freshman last year, the right-hander was solid. Now a sophomore, Hultgren has matured, and her relationship with Duesler has blossomed.
“They have a great dynamic with each other,” said Yrjanson of her pitcher-catcher combo. “They understand each other so well. That’s nice.”
Like Duesler, Hultgren was a member of the small Polar League school’s state run two seasons ago. Although a reserve for the Bombers back then as an eighth-grader, Hultgren has fond memories of the tournament.
“It was such a great experience and I had so much fun,” Hultgren said. “I learned so much that year.”
Practicing outside just a few times thus far, both Hultgren and Duesler said they and their teammates are itching to get outside more often, with their season opener Tuesday at home against league nemesis McGregor.
“We want to set the tone right away,” Hultgren said. “Practices have been productive, but now, the season’s just around the corner.”
“I’m excited,” Duesler added. “I want to get on the field so bad.”
And she will add yet another varsity game to her tally.
Along with the Bombers, fellow Polar League fastpitch squads include Cromwell-Wright, Esko and Moose Lake-Willow River. First-year South Ridge will also sport a Class A club, like the Cardinals, while both the Rebels and Eskomos will play Class AA. Games are set for next week.