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Written by Mitch Maersch   
Thursday, 30 March 2017 16:04

Parsons-powered Grafton softball team should be well-armed in bid for North Shore Conference crown

The Grafton softball team has reloaded this spring with the returning North Shore Conference Player of the Year and four other all-league performers.

Catcher Amanda Parsons will again lead a strong group up the middle for the Black Hawks. Last year, the senior hit .395 in conference games with a .544 on-base percentage and a .721 slugging average.

Her 17 hits included two homers, a triple and six doubles. She drove in 18 runs.

With Parsons behind the plate, only two runners tried to steal against her.

This season, Grafton will have three pitchers firing away, including sophomore Kirsten Krause, an all-conference honorable-mention pick last year.

Krause went 4-2 last year with an earned-run average of 1.46. She struck out 57 in 52-2/3 innings.

Other Grafton pitchers include Jordan Case and Amanda’s twin sister, Ally Parsons, a first-team all-conference utility player last year. Parsons went 7-1 with a 1.98 ERA, whiffing 27 in 28 1/3 innings.

When she’s not pitching, Parsons is slated to play second base.

At shortstop, Chloe Doring moves from second base to replace Katie Hunt, a first-team all-conference player who graduated. Doring received honorable mention last season, when she drove in nine runs and had 22 putouts and 17 assists.

“She’s a really good athlete,” Grafton coach Ken Hunt said.

Danielle Koziczkowski, a second-team all-conference outfielder, is back to patrol center field for her senior season. She has a .327 batting average, .386 on-base percentage and .404 slugging percentage, and scored 16 runs.

“Up the middle, we’ll be pretty strong,” Hunt said.

Koziczkowski will hit in the leadoff spot this season with a goal of breaking the single-season conference record for stolen bases. A former right-handed batter, she was turned into a lefty slapper in the eighth grade by Hunt.

“I told her, ‘One step at a time. Get a hit, and then we’ll worry about getting you around,’” Hunt said.

Other strong hitters for Grafton include Ally Parsons, who hit .420 last season and led the team in on-base percentage at .573. She had 12 RBI and scored 20 runs.

Krause hit .372 with a .419 slugging percentage, drove in 11 runs and scoring 12.

Krause is slated to play third base when she isn’t pitching. Others at the hot corner include Jenna Grandinetti and Elle Grisar.

Case is slated to play first base, along with Summer Schmitt.

Leona Meyer is expected to play left field. She occasionally played with the varsity team last year and got a key hit in a victory over conference champion Germantown.

Senior Eryn Neilson is slated to play right field.

Last year, the Hawks swept two games against Germantown and split with Homestead but lost to Port Washington and Whitefish Bay at the end of the season in letting the NSC title slip away.

Grafton finished 12-4, one game behind Germantown (11-3).

In the WIAA playoffs, the Hawks regrouped and made a strong run that ended one game from state with a 13-6 loss to eventual Division 2 champion New Berlin West.

With Grafton’s field under water early this week, Hunt wasn’t able to get his team to practice on grass. But the Hawks are taking their every-other-year trip to Alabama over spring break to play some top-notch competition. Opponents include former state champions from Alabama and Tennessee.

After morning practices, the team will hit the beach, go sightseeing and participate in other adventures. Hunt said he hopes the team bonds well during the trip. 

“That’s a big part of it,” he said.

This week, the Hawks’ Monday game against Waukesha North was cancelled. Their season opener is now set for Tuesday, April 4, when they play a conference road game against Nicolet.

On April 6, Grafton will host Germantown at 4:30 p.m. at John Long Middle School.

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