After making its second state tournament appearance ever last spring, Farmington softball enters the 2013 season with some bases to cover, literal and figurative.
Having senior captain Toni Hunsinger on the team will help big time.
“She can play anywhere, really,” coach Paul Harrington said.
Hunsinger started last year at third base, the position for which she was recruited by colleges. But the senior captain can play wherever the team needs her. She can pitch, catch and play all infield and outfield positions, making her the most versatile player any coach could ask for.
That not only bodes well for this year’s Farmington team. It also increases her chances of playing at the collegiate level.
“I can be moved around if I need to,” said Hunsinger, who hit .333 and added 11 RBI last year and will play for St. Mary’s next season. “I’ll always have somewhere to play.”
The Tigers boast just two seniors and two returning juniors while freshmen and sophomores will fill out the rest of the roster. Ashley Betzold joins Hunsinger as the other senior and co-captain. The two have been playing softball together since they were 6 years old.
“I think we’re the only two that stuck with it the whole way,” Hunsinger said.
Betzold will pitch and swings a potent bat. She racked up 17 victories and 141 strikeouts to go with a 1.98 ERA last year as a junior. She’s a “battler,” Harrington said. If Betzold does give up hits, she finds a way to escape jams without damage. She changes speeds well and works the corners to keep hitters off balance.
“With her on the mound, she gives us a chance to win every time out,” Harrington said.
Betzold also led the team in hitting last year, batting .415 with 15 RBI. She tied a state tournament record when she hit home runs in back-to-back plate appearances against Bloomington Jefferson.
Other returning letter winners include Jordan Keprios, McKenzie Nelson, Amber Doyle, Taylor Yousse and Molly Berdan, who all provide infield depth and might have to fill in at outfield as well.
The Tigers will have a strong act to follow after capturing the Class 3A, Section 1 championship and sharing the Missota Conference title with Shakopee. The state tournament berth was the first since in 2003. It also capped Harrington’s first season as head coach at Farmington.
“We set the bar kind of high, but that’s OK,” Harrington said. “The kids got a flavor of what it’s like to win and that’s always a good thing.”
Hunsinger treasured the run.
“It was an honor to be a part of that team and go back to state for the second time ever,” Hunsinger said. “It was just really cool to be able to experience that. You never know whether it’s going to happen again or not.”
But she certainly hopes it does.
“The biggest team goal would be to make it back to state for my senior year,” Hunsinger said. “Now that our conference and section has seen what we can do, I think they expect it out of us and we’re going to have our work cut out for us.”