Bulldogs ready for another softball run in 2012Tuesday morning before heading to school, Alanna Groth was the first one to admit she and her senior teammates love chatting about softball wherever they are. Even if that’s in class.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Tuesday morning before heading to school, Alanna Groth was the first one to admit she and her senior teammates love chatting about softball wherever they are. Even if that’s in class.
“During class, after class, in between class, we talk about it all of the time,” said the Carlton senior third baseman. “It’s what we all talk about. For most of us, I’d say it’s our favorite sport.”
Perhaps that’s because the Bulldogs are as good as any small school around these days. Last year, Carlton charged all the way to Section 7A championship before losing to Cherry just one round shy of the state tournament.
“That was a huge disappointment,” recalled Groth of the heartbreaking 2-1 loss. “Sure, looking back we’re proud and happy we got that far, but it would have been 10 times better if we would have gone all of the way.”
However, that missed opportunity has allowed the Bulldogs to burst into 2012 stronger than ever. According to second-year Coach Denny Johnson, his Carlton crew has been practicing for nearly a month at both the downtown Four Seasons Complex, as well as outside at Chub Lake Park on the outskirts of town.
“I think that we’re solid and I have the utmost confidence in the girls,” Johnson said Tuesday morning. “Last year I think the girls kind of exceeded people’s expectations, but now they know they can do it. We’re very athletic and I think we’re going to be in good shape.”
Johnson said they return eight starters from last spring’s 16-3 squad that breezed its way to a Polar League title, along with a section runner-up finish. He highlighted the four seniors in Groth, first baseman Megan Nelson, shortstop Christy Eggert and top pitcher in righty Megan Bodin.
“Those girls are just four solid players,” Johnson said. “I think we’re solid, but those four are so strong in the field and at the plate, too.”
Groth said that skill comes from their love of the game. Although she said they can get silly at times, Groth explained they are all about business.
“That’s one thing about our team, we can get goofy, but when it comes to playing softball, we’re determined,” Groth said. “Soon as we get on that field, everyone is ready to play.”
Nelson agreed, noting that she and her teammates are set on succeeding this spring.
“We want to take things to another level,” Nelson said. “We’re good defensively and our bats can click, too, but we just continue to work on everything we can. We’re always ready to go.”
Along with the senior leadership, Johnson explained that centerfielder Clarissa Nelson and speedy second baseman Brooke Camps – both juniors – will help lead, while freshman pitch Grace Macor and eighth-grade catcher Hannah Benson will also contribute for the Bulldogs.
“I might have to take out a pen and paper to count, but I’ve been coaching many years,” Johnson said with a laugh. “Most teams have one, two or maybe three good players. We have six, seven, and eight. For a small school that’s a real luxury to have. I think it’s going to be a successful year.”
Johnson went on to say their junior varsity is looking strong, too, as he and fellow coaches have been increasing the program’s numbers steadily.
Camps, now entering her fifth year on the varsity since being on the team as a seventh-grader, couldn’t recall such a large number of players.
“There are a lot of younger girls out there,” she said Tuesday before practice. “We really have grown a lot.”
Again, that comes from their passion for the sport. Wherever they are.
“Most of us have been playing since third grade,” continued Camps. “Softball is my favorite sport. I just love it. I would play it any day and every day.”
The Bulldogs will open their season Tuesday at Silver Bay.