Fairmont softball hits road to St. Peter for season-opener
FAIRMONT — Cory Hainy officially began his second season at the helm of the Fairmont Cardinal varsity softball program 11 days ago.
“We haven’t lost a game yet,” Hainy said with a wry smile, “then again, we haven’t won one yet either.”
Unfortunately for Hainy, the COVID-19 pandemic put an abrupt end to his varsity coaching debut before the Cardinals even had the opportunity to step into the batter’s box during the spring of 2020.
Hainy, however, will pencil in his first-ever varsity lineup for Fairmont when it travels to St. Peter for the official first pitch of the season at 5:30 p.m. today in a Big South Conference contest against the Saints.
“We have three pitchers — Nevaeh Rahm, a freshman, and a pair of sophomores in Allison Janssen and Anna Ehlert,” said Hainy. “None of them have played an inning at the junior varsity level, let alone seen any time on the varsity diamond.
“We (coaching staff) have confidence in their pitching skills, but they have absolutely no experience.”
Hainy said there’s a “high probability” that all three hurlers will step inside the chalked circle against a varsity opponent during the early stages of the season.
“Since our pitching is up in the air at the present moment, we’ll need to be flexible at the other positions on the field,” said Hainy. “That is definitely a quality this team has and that’s versatility.”
Hainy anticipates that Rahm will compete for time with projected starter junior Brittney Mosloski and sophomore Emily Muller at first base, while Ehlert and Janssen also will vie for innings at both second and third base.
Hainy, however, does know who will anchor his infield defense.
“Kaitlyn Scott, who’s a senior captain, has nailed down the starting shortstop position,” said Hainy. “After that, we’ll have to figure out our battery and go from there.”
Junior tri-captains Jaya Johnson and Emma Gudahl, along with sophomore Chantell Moeller, will compete to handle the varsity signal-calling duties behind the plate, although the talented trio will be the mix for time at third base with Ehlert. Freshman Ava Terfehr also could eventually figure into the catching mix.
The Cardinals’ second-year head coach also will look to Gudahl, Ehlert, Janssen and sophomore Kynlie Anderson to battle at second base.
“Emma (Gudahl) can play anywhere but pitcher, and she may even get some time in the outfield,” said Hainy.
Junior Cassidy Schultz, junior Abby Sunken and sophomore Ava Gillmore will compete for playing time in the outfield, along with sophomore Ashley Muller.
“It’ll take some time for us to sort out where everybody fits into the lineup, but the bottom line about softball is — it’s all about pitching,” said Hainy. “Normally, we would have already worked through the fundamentals before our first game, but with our preseason being shrunk and players missing due to the holiday or vacations, it’ll be a challenge preparing for the season.”
Hainy, however, appreciates the fact that a “good percentage” of his youthful roster played a number of games in both the late summer and fall softball leagues to keep their diamond skills honed.
“We’ve got good numbers — 26 in grades 9-12, with the junior high having around 20,” said Hainy. “It’ll be good just to get back outside on the diamond. I think all of us — players and coaches alike — have really missed playing the sport.”
Tim Terfehr will serve as the Cardinals’ varsity assistant coach, with Adam Schmidt making the transition from Fairmont C-squad baseball coach to the Cardinal softball program’s junior varsity mentor. Mark Drever will be the junior varsity assistant, while Aaron Lowry and Jeff Miller will handle the junior high coaching duties.
Hainy and the Fairmont varsity team hits the road to St. James on Monday, April 12, before playing its home-opener against New Ulm on Tuesday, April 13, at Cardinal Park.