Denison-Schleswig last summer won 29 of 34 games on the softball field and got to within one contest of the state tournament for the second year in a row.
With 10 returning letterwinners, including the team’s top pitcher/catcher tandem back in uniform, the D-S girls are expecting to make yet another strong postseason run under veteran head coach Kevin Dau.
Dau is beginning his 11th season at the helm with an overall record of 241-116. He will be joined on the field by second-year assistant coach Shelby Pieper.
A year ago, the Monarchs finished second in the Hawkeye 10 Conference at 17-3 and finished 29-5 overall after dropping a tough 4-3 decision to Sergeant Bluff-Luton in a Class 4A regional final game at Denison.
"We have a lot of experience and plenty of girls ready to fill their roles," commented Dau.
"We should be fundamentally sound on defense and hopefully be able to score a few runs," he added.
Eight of the 10 returning letterwinners are seniors in Alex Mohr (C), Sarah Heilesen (P), Kambrie Dau (OF), Raegan Andersen (IF), Kailey Pick (IF), Tatum Fink (OF), Kayla Rauch (OF) and Ashlynn Carlson (OF).
The other two veterans back are juniors Payton Goslar (IF) and Paige Armijo (IF/OF).
The Monarchs return their top three hitters in Mohr, Heilesen and Armijo.
Mohr batted .519 last summer with 54 hits in 104 at bats, including 12 doubles, three triples and 10 home runs to go with 37 runs batted in and 60 runs scored.
Mohr, a first-team all-conference performer a year ago, also stole 34 bases in 35 attempts last summer.
Heilesen hit .490 with 50 hits, including 11 doubles, four triples and 11 homers, while also recording a team-high 59 RBIs with 32 runs scored on the season.
As a pitcher, Heilesen started 33 games a year ago and went 29-5 overall in throwing 189-plus innings with a 2.11 earned run average.
Heilesen struck out 270 batters and walked only 74, as opponents hit just .166 of her.
Heilesen’s efforts at the plate and in the circle earned her a spot on the all-conference first team last summer.
Armijo was a .457 batter a year ago with 48 hits, including eight doubles, one triple and four home runs to go with 31 RBIs and 32 runs scored.
Armijo was recognized on the all-conference seconed team last summer.
Andersen hit .304 a year ago with 28 hits, including five doubles and one triple. She drove in seven runs and crossed the plate 22 times.
According to Dau, the team’s promising newcomers are senior Brooke Brown (OF); junior Allana Arkfeld (IF); sophomores Paige Kastner (OF), Anna Meyer (IF), Kennedy Marten (IF) and Emma Mendenhall (IF); and freshman Hailey Meseck (P).
"After having an outstanding season last year, my concern is how we will respond to a new season," Dau said.
"We have a lot of kids pushing for playing time and hopefully we worked hard in the offseason to prepare," noted Dau, whose team will open its season on Tuesday, May 21, against Carroll High at Denison.