Experience back for Thunderbirds
Softball team to open season April 1
By Greg Seubert
An eventual state champion kept the Iola-Scandinavia softball team from making its first-ever appearance at state last year.
Whether the Thunderbirds wrap up their season in Madison at state this season remains to be seen, but the team is returning several players with a lot of varsity experience.
That’s according to Tom Anderson, who is entering his 31st year as the team’s coach.
The T-Birds finished third in the Central Wisconsin Conference East Division with a 7-5 record last year, but won a WIAA Division 4 regional championship with a 4-3 win over Algoma. A 4-2 sectional semifinal win over Coleman placed Iola-Scandinavia in a sectional final against Mishicot, but the T-Birds dropped an 8-2 decision to the eventual Division 4 state champion and their season ended with a 19-10 record.
The T-Birds have to replace five starters from last year’s team in Katie Cherek, Lizzie Jones, Payton Kielblock, Taylor Kielblock and Anna Rustad.
This season’s varsity and junior varsity rosters include seniors Alexa Christoph and Makayla Much; juniors Vanessa Derus, Marin Hoyord, Clara Koles, Jadyn Krusa, Jaelyn Sivertson, Chloe Timdal and Mackenzie Woyak; sophomores Maci Heschke, Myah Heschke, Abby Isermann, Reagan Krause, Maddie Much, Julia Munoz and Morgan Richter; and freshmen Libby Maus, Kylee Noack and Jordynn Sullivan.
Five of those players saw plenty of time in the field last season, including Christoph (first base), Makayla Much (center field), Hoyord (catcher), Koles (outfield) and Sivertson (shortstop). Munoz and Maddie Much also had pitching experience as freshmen.
“At this time, we need to find two starters to fill out our starting lineup,” Anderson said. “A lot will depend on the positions each of the players settle into. Jadyn Krusa, Chloe Timdal and Myah Heschke will battle for playing time.”
Pitching and catching will go a long way in determining the team’s success, according to Anderson.
“As it always goes with softball, having solid pitching and catching is key,” he said. “Maddie Much and Julia Munoz did very well for last season pitching at the varsity and junior varsity levels. Marin Hoyord returns to catch while earning first-team all-conference honors last season.
“Alexa Christoph and Makayla Much, along with Marin Hoyord, Jaelyn Sivertson and Clara Koles, will be counted on to be solid contributors offensively and defensively this season,” he said. “Sivertson, our starting shortstop, was selected first-team all-conference, first-team all-district and honorable mention all-state last season.
“Our goal for this season is to be competitive in each game and improve throughout the season,” he added. “If we compete and improve throughout the season, we will be OK.”
Wittenberg-Birnamwood won the CWC East Division last year with an 11-1 record, followed by Amherst (10-2). Iola-Scandinavia (7-5), Bonduel (6-6) Shiocton and Weyauwega-Fremont (4-8) and Menominee Indian (0-12).
Weyauwega-Fremont lost second-team all-conference catcher Hannah Timm to graduation, but the Warhawks return first-team all-conference player Jayden McCoy and honorable mention player Kelsie Bleck.
“Amherst should be the favorite going into the season, especially with first-team all-conference, all-district and all-state pitcher Haley Peskie and second-team all-conference catcher Sara Breed returning as the Falcons’ battery,” Anderson said. “Hopefully, we can challenge Amherst for the title and I would think Bonduel, Shiocton, Weyauwega-Fremont and Wittenberg-Birnamwood will have something to say about it.”
The T-Birds are scheduled to open the season Friday, April 1, with a nonconference game at Westfield at 5 p.m. A junior varsity game will follow at 6:30 p.m.