Experience boosts PHS softball team’s hopes

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


VANESSA ARBUCKLE, junior third baseman, will be a key hitter in the Plymouth softball team’s lineup this season. – Review file photo VANESSA ARBUCKLE, junior third baseman, will be a key hitter in the Plymouth softball team’s lineup this season. – Review file photo PLYMOUTH – A wealth of experience boosts the Plymouth softball team’s hopes for the 2016 season.

The Panthers return seven letter winners, including six starters, from last year as they look to improve on a 9-15 season. PHS finished 5-9 in the Eastern Wisconsin Conference a year ago and is now in the new East Central Conference.

“I’m quite optimistic about this season. I feel more confident as a second-year coach than last year,” said Panther head coach Dawn Krebsbach who took over for longtime PHS coach Gale Grahn in 2015.

“We have a great group of girls who work hard and want to be on the diamond every day. A very fun and energetic team.”

The Panthers went through a rebuilding season last year with seven varsity newcomers and having graduated four All-EWC players from the 2014 team which was 16-7 overall and a Division 2 regional finalist.


ERICA HELMER, shown last year pitching against Nicolet, worked very hard in the offseason to prepare for Plymouth’s 2016 softball season. – Review file photo ERICA HELMER, shown last year pitching against Nicolet, worked very hard in the offseason to prepare for Plymouth’s 2016 softball season. – Review file photo The returning starters are seniors Erica Helmer (pitcher), Caitlyn Klemme (catcher/outfielder), Cassy Sippel (shortstop) and Hannah Bucko (second baseman), and juniors Vanessa Arbuckle (third baseman) and Jessica Leider (center fielder). The other letter winner back is senior Jennifer Fenske (outfielder/ catcher).

Sippel was named to the All- EWC honorable-mention team last season. She is the Panthers’ top returning hitter and RBI producer from 2015 when she batted .292 and drove in 14 runs. Sippel, who will be a three-year starter this season, hit one home run last year.

Arbuckle, an outfielder last year, led PHS in home runs with three and had eight RBIs.

Helmer threw four shutouts and had a 9-10 record as a junior in her first season as a varsity pitcher.

PLYMOUTH VARSITY

SOFTBALL ROSTER

Seniors – *Cassy Sippel (SS), *Hannah Bucko (2B), *Caitlyn Klemme (C-OF) *Jennifer Fenske (OF-C), *Erica Helmer (P) and Hailey Hughes (OF).

Juniors – *Vanessa Arbuckle (3B), Jordyn Thomas (1B), Alyssa Krahn (OF) and *Jessica Leider (OF).

Sophomores – Sommer Stoney (IF) and Kendra Stauss (1B).

R_e_t_u_rn_i_n_g_ le_t_te_r_ w__in_n_e_r._____ ___* _=_

“Erica Helmer and Cassy Sippel will be called on to lead the team. Helmer has worked extremely hard over the off-season to improve her pitching,” said Krebsbach.

“Jessica Leider will play center field and does an amazing job running down balls. Jess played third last year and is more confident and comfortable in center field,” the coach pointed out.

“Jennifer Fenske is a returning letter winner and will see time in the outfield as well as catching.”

Krebsbach said Klemme may see action in the outfield.

The coach pointed out the team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“We have quite a few returning starters back, so I’m expecting them to lead through experience,” she said.

“A weakness is we only have 12 players, so subbing may be interesting, depending on game situations.”

Krebsbach said sophomore infielder Sommer Stoney and sophomore first baseman Kendra Stauss have impressed her among the varsity newcomers.

“Kendra Stauss and Sommer Stoney will see a bit of action this year in the infield. They are confi- dent at the plate and have good defensive skills. Kendra does a nice job at first stretching for the ball,” said the coach.

Krebsbach mentioned the keys for the Panthers to be successful.

“They need to communicate and have fun. If they have fun, they’ll be confident and things should fall into place,” she said.

“We also need everyone to stay healthy this season. Again, with only 12 players, it doesn’t give us a lot of wiggle room.”

The coach expects a strong conference.

“The new conference is a very tough one for softball,” said Krebsbach.

“You combine the top teams from the EWC [last season] in Waupun, Kewaskum and Campbellsport and put them with Ripon and Kettle Moraine Lutheran [Jackson]. It’ll be a very competitive conference.

“Waupun is coming off of a great season and going to state, so I would expect them to be on the top of their game as well.”

Waupun was the EWC champion and D-2 state runner-up in 2015.

Krebsbach noted her top goals for the season.

“Improving the defense is always one of my top goals. We had too many errors last year. That cannot happen if we want to be successful,” she said.

“The players also need to be confident in every play that they make.”


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