New varsity players a key for Panthers

by Greg Ceilley of The Review staff

CASSY SIPPEL, junior shortstop, fields a grounder during the Plymouth softball team’s practice Tuesday afternoon. Sippel is one of five returning starters for the Panthers. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley CASSY SIPPEL, junior shortstop, fields a grounder during the Plymouth softball team’s practice Tuesday afternoon. Sippel is one of five returning starters for the Panthers. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH – The Plymouth Panthers’ varsity softball newcomers will play key roles in the success of the team this season.

PHS has seven new players and first-year head coach Dawn Krebsbach is counting on all of them to contribute.

“We are a young team. We lost key positions last year due to graduation [pitcher, catcher and third base], so it may take time to adjust,” said Krebsbach who takes over for Gale Grahn who retired after 24 years at the helm.

“I am optimistic that they [newcomers] will adjust to the changes and put in the effort necessary to be successful.”

The Panthers lost four All-Eastern Wisconsin Conference players to graduation, including twin sisters Rachel Romps and Sara Romps who were first-team the past two years at pitcher and catcher, respectively. PHS finished third in the EWC with a 10-4 record and was 16-7 overall in 2014. The Panthers were a Division 2 regional finalist.

“We’re hoping to build off of it [2014 season] for another successful year,” said Krebsbach.

Despite being a young squad as far as varsity experience, the Panthers return six starters. The group of starters back is headed by senior center fielder Erika Stauss who was an All-EWC second-team pick in 2014. Stauss led PHS in batting with an



Seniors – *Paige Stoney (1B), *Michaela Kelly (1B), *Erika Stauss (OF) and *Elizabeth Struve (OF).

Juniors – *Jordyn Pieper (2B), *Cassy Sippel (SS), Hannah Bucko (IF), Caitlyn Klemme (C) Jennifer Fenske (OF-C), Karla Adamson (OF) and Erica Helmer (P).

Sophomores – *Vanessa Arbuckle (OF) and Lydia Rhude (IF).

Freshmen – Jessica Leider (3B).

Returning Winners- excellent .391 average and doubles, eight, last season. Stauss shared the team lead in hits at 27 and was second in RBIs with 15.

The other starters back include junior second baseman Jordyn Pieper, junior shortstop Cassy Sippel, senior first baseman Paige Stoney, senior first baseman Michaela Kelly and sophomore outfielder Vanessa Arbuckle. Stoney was the team’s designated player most of last season.

Pieper stole a team-high 10 bases last season and hit .329.

“Looking for her to play solid defense up the middle,” said the coach.

“Cassy will be counted on to lead the infield.”

Arbuckle hit .290 with one home run last year after being called up from the junior varsity midway through the season.

In addition to the returning starters, Plymouth’s other letter winner back is senior Elizabeth Struve who is looking to see action in right field.

“We have many players that are versatile and can play many different positions,” said Krebsbach, referring to the team’s main strength.

“Currently our weakness is a lack of varsity experience.”

The Panthers will have a new battery this season in junior hurler Erica Helmer and junior catcher Caitlyn Klemme. Helmer had a strong 2014 JV season and threw five innings for the varsity.

Krebsbach commented on each of the other newcomers.

“Lydia Rhude [sophomore] is a solid defensive player looking to see action at third or shortstop,” she noted.

“Hannah Bucko [junior] will see action at second and perhaps outfield. Jessica Leider [freshman] has a solid arm at third and is being relied upon for good defense.

“Jennifer Fenske [junior] will see time in the outfield and at backup catcher. Karly Adamson [junior] is looking to work into a corner outfield position,” said the coach.

Krebsbach pointed out the keys for the team to have success.

“The team needs to remain positive and keep working hard. If we do this, we will be able to obtain our goals of playing good defense and improving on a daily basis,” she said.

“My goals for the season would be to limit the number of fielding errors, play solid defense and work hard to improve every day.”

Krebsbach surveyed the EWC race.

“It should be a tough battle in the EWC. All of the teams but Kewaskum lost their starting pitcher,” she said.

“Waupun, Campbellsport and Plymouth were the top three teams last year and I anticipate that again this year. Kewaskum, Sheboygan Falls and New Holstein have solid lineups as well.”

Waupun is the reigning EWC champion. Campbellsport finished second last season.

Krebsbach, an assistant coach for PHS the previous 11 years, is looking forward to the opportunity of being the head coach.

“I am excited to get the opportunity to coach the girls. I want the girls to be excited to play the game of softball and not only learn about the sport but to have fun while they are out on the diamond,” said Krebsbach who was an all-conference center fielder at Reedsville High School.

“I want them to know that if they work hard, they can achieve anything. They should take pride in putting on a PHS softball uniform.”

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