Softball: NLS expects to be improved in 2024

Apr. 3—NEW LONDON — The New London-Spicer softball team returns a great deal of experience to its starting lineup for the 2024 season.

NLS, behind Dalayne Hatlestad and Abby Knudsen, returns nine starters to the field.

Hatlestad, a junior catcher/outfielder, is coming off a West Central Tribune All-Area Second Team and an All-Wright County Conference campaign as Knudsen, a junior centerfielder, was an All-Area Honorable Mention and an All-Wright County Conference pick.

Hatlestad led the Wildcats, who finished 3-11 in conference play and 5-14 overall, with a .364 batting average as well as with 24 hits and three doubles in 2023. Knudsen batted .275 and led NLS with 12 stolen bases."We are excited about the upcoming season," NLS head coach Melissa Bergeson said. "We will be a much more experienced team."

The Wildcats will have senior leadership from starters in pitcher/infielder Emily Ruter and outfielder Brianna Wileman. Ruter (2-5) had a 7.80 ERA with 25 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched and hit .263 at the plate. Wileman averaged .282 in 39 at-bats.

Also returning as juniors for NLS are catcher/third baseman Mallory Johnson, second baseman Maren Munsch, first baseman Jadyn Proehl and infielder Aly Wendlandt.

Addi Nelson returns with the most time spent in the circle from a season ago. The sophomore pitcher had a 6.92 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 58-2/3 innings pitched.

Up-and-comers listed as players to watch include: juniors Sarah Kraemer (P) and Amber Ronning (IF), sophomores KayAnna Gehrke (IF) and Leia Farhat (C) and freshman Ezri Boelter (P/IF).

"We improved in all facets of the game in 2023 and I am confident that improvement will continue in 2024," Bergeson said. "Our lineup will be a great mix of speed and power and should translate into more wins."

NLS is scheduled to open up its 2024 season on the road at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, against Dassel-Cokato at Cokato. The Wildcats' home opener is set for 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 15, against Litchfield at New London.