It’s next man up for Grafton softball

Injuries and graduation create opportunities for younger players to get plenty of varsity experience

INJURIES HAVE THRUST Grafton freshman Sara Paschke into the role of starting pitcher for the Black Hawks’ softball team this season. Photo by Sam Arendt
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

Grafton’s softball team knew it had some big holes to fill due to graduation when it entered this season.

A couple of ACL injuries created two more.

As far as known exits, the first two-time North Shore Conference player of the year Amanda Parsons graduated, along with her twin sister Ally, who was named to the league’s first team three years in a row.

First-team outfielder Danielle Koziczkowski and second-team infielder Chloe Doring also earned their diplomas.

But Coach Ken Hunt looked forward to first-team pitcher Kirsten Krause returning for her junior season.

An ACL injury suffered in gym class ended her season before it got started.

The team’s No. 2 pitcher, sophomore Ellie Grisar, had started every game at third base last year and was ready to take over.

But an ACL injury during basketball season prevented that from happening.

“I can laugh about it, but I’m going to have to pull up a freshman to be our No. 1 pitcher this year,” Hunt said.

That means Sara Paschke gets the ball on the rubber, and she’s not the only young player expected to play a big role.

NSC second-team infielder Jordyn Case is back for her junior year in center field and will serve as the Hawks’ No. 2 pitcher.

Paschke and Case will be throwing to freshman Kristyn Case, Jordyn’s younger sister.

Shortstop was still a question. Senior outfielder Jenna Grandinetti may be moved there.

Junior Taylor Fritz may play third base, and sophomore Josephine Gust will play second.

First base was up for grabs between Jess Wagner and Abbie Caputa.

“It will be a very interesting season. We’re going to be very young around the infield,” Hunt said.

In right field, sophomore Natalie McDonald will play right and senior Leona Meyer — the only Hawk playing the same position she did last year — will again patrol left field.

Beyond those, a handful of other girls who don’t have varsity experience may get some playing time year, Hunt said.

“It will be a lot of learning on the fly. We’re going to be a little young and go through some growing pains,” he said.

“My expectations don’t change. I expect them to play well together.”

Having such a young team does carry a silver lining., though Grafton may not yet see it this season.

“By the time they’re juniors and seniors, they won’t be wide-eyed and will all be familiar with the situation,” Hunt said.

The offense will lean on Meyer and Jordyn Case.

Krause and Grisar will still be with the team and help the underclassmen, Hunt said.

Team leaders will be Krause, Meyer, Grandinetti and Jordyn Case.

“They know the success and tradition we’ve built,” Hunt said.

What isn’t known is how the new conference will shake out. Milwaukee Lutheran and longtime powerhouse Germantown are gone, and Hartford, Slinger and West Bend East and West have joined the league.
“To be honest, there’s a lot of unknowns with those teams,” Hunt said.
“I’m not sure where we’ll fall in that mix of the conference this year. I’m expecting good competition from some of the new entries and continuing rivalries with the remaining teams.”
The Hawks started with a 13-4 loss against Mayville last Thursday.
The Hawks are scheduled to host West Bend West on Monday, April 9, and West Bend East on April 10. They play at Homestead on Thursday, April 12.

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