Youth was on the side of the 2019 Nokomis High School softball team as seven of the nine players who played in 20 or more games were underclassmen for Coach Dan DeWerff.
While this will give the Lady Redskins a lot of experience coming back in 2020, the two exceptions will be tough for Nokomis to replace. Seniors Maddie Sowarsh and Emily Cesaretti were two of the Redskins' top players and if Nokomis plans to improve on this year's 8-17-1 record, some of those underclassmen will have to step forward to replace the duo.
Sowarsh was the Redskins' best hitter and ace on the mound as she collected seven of their eight wins and struck out 150 batters, beating last year's mark of 146.
At the plate, the senior led Nokomis in every offensive category, but walks (she was second), posting a batting average of .395 with three home runs, two triples, five doubles and 22 singles. She also scored 21 runs and drove in 20 RBIs.
Cesaretti, who batted .167 last year, upped her average by almost 100 points as she went 20-for-76 for a .263 mark. She also scored 15 runs (second most on the team) and had 11 RBIs (fifth most).
Of the junior class, both Alexa Cassidy and Sophia Keller played in 20 or more games, while Ciara Stajets came off the bench as well. Cassidy was third on the team in RBIs with 14, while Keller had four hits, four runs and four RBIs.
The sophomore class played a big part in this year's team and will be looked upon again in 2020. Emma Blaum batted .306 on the year and tied for the team-lead in doubles with five. Delaney Keiser also had five doubles and batted .250 on the season.
Mia Fesser tied for the team lead in triples and scored 14 runs last year, while Madigan Hoffman and Rebecca Wattjes also saw the field for the Lady Redskins.
Nokomis' four freshmen played a role as well, with Emma Hill and Karli Wanger both playing in nearly all of Nokomis' games. Hill led the team in walks with 13 and had nine runs scored on the year, while Wanger was second in RBIs with 16 and third in runs scored with 14.
Baylee Cesaretti and Aubrie Jaros had smaller sample sizes, combining for 50 at-bats, but showed glimpses of something special as Cesaretti batted .333 with 12 runs scored and Jaros batted .294.
Hitting is one thing, but pitching will be another as the Redskins look to replace Sowarsh, who threw 223.2 of the 281 innings Nokomis has played over the last two years. Blaum has picked up a win in each of the last two years, while Jaros made a very brief varsity appearance, walking one, allowing one hit and striking out one in two-thirds of an inning.
If the youngsters can step up their game, maybe the Lady Redskins can challenge for their first regional championship since 2006.