Coach Grahn excited about Panthers’ season

by Greg Ceilley
of The Review staff


JESSICA LEIDER, Plymouth senior, belts a triple in Thursday’s softball scrimmage against visiting Random Lake. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley JESSICA LEIDER, Plymouth senior, belts a triple in Thursday’s softball scrimmage against visiting Random Lake. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley PLYMOUTH – After taking three years off from coaching the Plymouth softball team, Gale Grahn is back at the helm and is excited about the 2018 season.

Grahn was the Panthers’ head coach for 24 years before retiring after the 2014 season. He replaces Dawn Krebsbach who stepped down after three seasons.

“I retired after the 2014 season but the timing is right to get back in it. It will be great to have Paul [Krzyzaniak] as a varsity assistant. He has been my righthand man all these years. We are excited for the season,” said Grahn.

Krzyzaniak is in his 27th year as a PHS softball coach, including 26 as the junior varsity coach.

The Panthers lost only three players to graduation off last year’s squad which finished 6-16 overall and 3-11 in the East Central Conference. PHS lost to Port Washington in the first round of Division 2 regional play.

PHS has two All-ECC players returning from last season in senior center fielder Jessica Leider and senior shortstop Sommer Stoney who earned honorable mention.

Stoney led PHS in batting last season with a .357 average, followed by Leider at .310. Stoney also had a team-high three home runs, 13 RBIs and seven extrabase hits. Leider was second in RBIs with 11.

“Sommer is the leader of the infield. Jessica leads the outfield defense and has excellent range in the outfield,” said Grahn.

Leider and Stoney are among 10 returning letter winners. The other letter winners back are seniors Sylvia Peters (pitcher), Kendra Stauss (first baseman/ second baseman), Kayla Prahl (second baseman), Jessica Fenske (outfielder/catcher), Ellie Potrykus (outfielder) and Maddy Straub (outfielder); junior outfielder Elsa Blad (outfielder) and sophomore Kennedy Arbuckle (catcher).


IZZY ARBUCKLE, Plymouth third baseman fields a grounder in Thursday’s softball scrimmage against visiting Random Lake. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley IZZY ARBUCKLE, Plymouth third baseman fields a grounder in Thursday’s softball scrimmage against visiting Random Lake. – Review photo by Greg Ceilley Peters was the Panthers’ starting pitcher last season and earned five wins. She batted .300.

“Sylvia has worked really hard this off-season to improve and I expect all numbers will be much better this year,” said Grahn.

Grahn said Stauss, Prahl, Fenske, Potrykus and Straub are vying for starting spots and will provide excellent leadership for the newer players.

“Elsa exhibits good skills in the outfield. Kennedy was brought up from the junior varsity during the season and helped solidify the catching position last year,” said Grahn.

Arbuckle hit .278 and cracked a team-high three triples last season.

“We have good young players that will be pushing for starting roles on the varsity,” Grahn noted.

He pointed out the team’s strengths.

“The girls have a strong work ethic. The girls are really working hard to improve their skills,” said Grahn.

He noted the areas of concern.

“Most haven’t played in a lot of close games, so we are inexperienced in that area. We can only improve through game experiences, so that is why our main goal is to be better in May as we experience situations allseason long,” said Grahn.

He said improved defense and pitching will be the keys to having success this season.

“We gave up too many earned and unearned runs last year,” said the head coach.

Grahn mentioned his goals for the season.

“We want to improve every day. Our No. 1 goal is to be better in May,” he said.

“We hope to improve our team defense. Good pitching and defense keeps you in games, and then timely hitting. There are some really good pitchers in the ECC, so runs are usually at a premium.”

Grahn thinks Kewaskum, Waupun, Campbellsport, Kettle Moraine Lutheran (Jackson) and Winneconne will be the top teams in the ECC. Kewaskum was a Division 2 state qualifier last season. Waupun is the defending league champion.

Kewaskum and Waupun each return a 2017 All-ECC pitcher in junior Kennedy Lehn and senior Megan Van Ruiswyk, respectively. Lehn was the ECC Co- Player of the Year last season.


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