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BHS spring previews: Softball: Bemidji looks to fill a few gaps, including pitching

Front row, from left: Manager Baily Luna, Mariah Dahl, Tori Koch, manager Jaffrie Edens. Middle row, from left: Abby Hinrichs, Monica Wittner, Jenna Thompson, Sydney Hinrichs, Annika Johnson, Karman Clark, Hanna Olson, Megan Severson. Back row, from left: Coach Ashley Brue, coach Denise Black, Sara Apel, Jordyn Follis, coach Brad Takkunen, Sylvia Grimm, Heather Olson, coach Tom Strommer, coach Ron Koski. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

BEMIDJI — For the past few seasons the one position Bemidji High School softball coach Brad Takkunen could automatically fill in the scorebook was pitcher. Jess Yost filled that role during her long tenure with the Lumberjacks and Takkunen, his players and the opponents all knew that if a big game was to be played, Yost would be on the mound.

Yost, however, has graduated and forming a reliable pitching staff will be one of the team’s priorities this spring.

“We lost seven seniors who were involved in the game and we have many holes to fill,” Takkunen said. “We’re going to have to find some things out this year including who will pitch and who will catch.

“When you get to the playoffs you can rely on one pitcher but you can’t do that during the season,” the coach continued. “But we have some options on the mound. Who will do the pitching depends upon who wants to go out and get the job done.”

Among those options are seniors Monica Wittner and Maria Dahl who spelled Yost on occasion last season.

“Monica has pitched in the past for us and Maria threw a little last year,” Takkunen said. “But I know Maria wants to be a position player, too.”

The roster also includes sophomores Heather Olson and Sydney Hinrichs who were the junior varsity pitchers in 2013.

“It’s early in the season and things can happen but right now I assume that our two pitchers will come from these four players,” Takkunen added.

The Lumberjacks also will be looking for an every-day catcher now that Courtney Black has graduated.

Abby Hinrichs was the junior varsity catcher last year and she wants to fill that void,” Takkunen said. “And we also have others who will want to catch.

“I think we have some very good athletes on our team and the key will be to find the right person for the right position.”

Bemidji’s strength may be its infield as veterans return at all four positions.

That cast includes junior Sylvia Grimm at first, Dahl at second, senior Hanna Olson at short and senior Jordyn Follis at third.

“We appear to be strong in the infield, I think our offense should be solid and I believe we have a good group of leaders,” the coach said. “But we’re going to have to find people to fill our holes in the outfield.”

Among those candidates are seniors Karman Clark and Annika Johnson plus Heather Olson and Sydney Hinrichs.

“We’ll see what happens,” Takkunen said about the outfield situation. “If we have a weakness it probably would be that we have to figure out who will play where. The kids have played softball before but the key will be for us to get the right kids at the right spots.

“And our pitchers will have to throw strikes,” the coach continued. “Last year we knew we would have 10 strikeouts by our pitcher and that is not the case this season. But that’s okay because if the ball is put into play everybody will be busy. And everybody on the field wants to get involved.”

The season is scheduled to begin April 11 when BHS hosts Detroit Lakes at 2 p.m. and Thief River Falls at 6 p.m. Other home dates this month are April 22 against Duluth East and April 29 against West Fargo.

The May schedule sees Bemidji entertaining Brainerd (May 2), Fergus Falls (May 9), International Falls (May 12) and Grand Rapids (May 15).

The Section 8-3A playoffs begin May 21 at the homes of the higher seeds.

The schedule


Coach: Brad Takkunen

4/11 Detroit Lakes, TRF 2 p.m., 6 p.m.

4/12 at Buffalo 1 p.m.

4/14 at Red River 6:30 p.m.

4/15 at Moorhead 4 p.m.

4/17 at Grand Rapids 4:30 p.m.

4/22 Duluth East 4:30 p.m.

4/25 at Sauk Rapids 5 p.m.

4/26 at Rocori Invitational TBD

4/29 West Fargo (DH) 4 p.m.

5/2 Brainerd 4:30 p.m.

5/9 Fergus Falls 4:30 p.m.

5/10 at Fargo North (DH) 12:30 p.m.

5/12 International Falls 4 p.m.

5/15 Grand Rapids 4:30 p.m.

5/21 8-3A tournament (high seeds) 4 p.m.

5/26 8-3A tournament (high seed) noon

5/28 8-3A tournament (high seed) 4 p.m.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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