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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

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Softball settles down with new coach

As the snow slowly melts in Iowa the Grinnell Softball Team gears up to head to Florida. Their annual Spring Break training trip to warmth will host their first 8 games of the season. The team can’t wait to get on a real field. 

“We’re all counting down the days to Florida,” outfielder Hannah LaFollette ’11 said.

LaFollette is headed to Florida with a new Head Coach, Craig Arendt—her fourth in three years. The inconsistency in the head coach’s position means the women have learned to rely each other. 

“There’s a lot of internal critiquing and everybody’s helping,” LaFollette said.

Arendt stepped into the head coaching position when last year’s coach, Suzanne Scheef, left due to unspecified difficulties with the administration. Scheef was hired last fall to replace Coach Tom Sonnichson. Primarily the women’s volleyball coach, Sonnichson took over the head coaching position from interim coach Sandra Faulkner who left in 2008, as planned, after her first season. 

Now that they have the reliable Arendt, the team is hopeful. 

“We definitely have a lot of individual talent and I think Coach Craig will be able to capitalize on that,” Catcher Julia Reese ’10 said.

However, Arendt undoubtedly has the experience needed to take over the program—he’s coached over a decade of youth and high school fast pitch softball and has played himself for 18 years. He has also been the Grinnell College assistant coach for the past two years and has been constant moral support for the team. Captain Kelsey Montgomery ’11 is excited to see him step up to the plate as head coach. 

“Coach Arendt has been with our team for all of our transitions through the last few years. Instead of having to get used to our team and the way we work, he already knows us,” Montgomery wrote in an e-mail.

Arendt also expressed his excitement about leading the team this year. 

“This is the most dedicated team [I’ve seen] so far at Grinnell,” Arendt said.

Despite their small roster—12 players have to field nine positions—Arendt believes that they can achieve great heights. His goal for the season is to make the Conference Championship Tournament. This would mean finishing in the top two spots for the Midwest Conference South division. Last year the team finished fourth. 

Montgomery believes that the team has the talent to prevail. 

 “We are returning a core group of eight players that have seen substantial time on the field in college competition,” Montgomery wrote in an e-mail. “We are also returning three all-conference players.”

Arendt identifies first-year pitcher Hannah Bauman as being a key component to the team’s success this year. Last year they graduated their impressive starting pitcher, Tess Cohen, who pitched 22 of their 31 games. The lack of a long-term coaching solution has resulted in a lack of depth in critical positions this season. As the only player with pre-collegiate softball catching experience, Reese understands the difficulties of being the one main player in a strenuous position. 

“[Bauman] is going to end up carrying a lot of the pitching role on her shoulders,”  Reese said.

Arendt and Reese agree the overall lack of depth is directly attributable to inconsistent coaching over the past four years. 

“One of the big problems with not having a stable coaching structure is that we don’t really have recruiting,” Reese said. 

However, Reese has hope for future teams. Despite a rough four years this season might be turning point in Grinnell softball

“I think the athletic department hopefully now sees that they can’t continue to neglect softball the way that softball has been [neglected in the past four years],” Reese said.

Despite all of their coaching and roster issues, the players remain positive.

“The adversity that we have gone through has only brought us closer together as a team,” Montgomery said.

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