A youth movement revitalized Hopkins High girls fastpitch softball this spring, but the Royals (11-14 overall) fell a couple wins short of qualifying for last week’s State Class AAAA Tournament at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
Next year could be a whole new ball game for the Royals, who were young this season, with eighth-grade pitcher Signe Dohse and ninth-grade catcher Lauren Granger as two of the key players.
In addition to forming one of the section’s top batteries, Dohse and Granger were offensive leaders this season with 28 hits each.
Granger had a very hot bat in the section tournament with a home run and four doubles as her most impressive stats.
Dohse was the No. 1 pitcher for the Royals, although senior Emma Kurus also had an outstanding season in the circle. There is no question Dohse has the velocity to be one of the best pitchers in Hopkins history.
“I try to disrupt the hitters’ timing,” she said. “I just focus on the basics.”
“Signe stays up even when something doesn’t go her way,” Granger said. “It’s never about her, always about the team.”
“Lauren is an incredible catcher,” Dohse said, returning the compliment. “I love her so much.”
Granger is often the player leading the cheers for Hopkins. There seem to be special cheers for every player in the tradition of Hopkins fastpitch softball.
Late in the section tournament, based on her hot hitting performance, opposing pitchers were not giving Granger much to hit. Her rare combination of power and situation-hitting skills make her a tough out. She’s not likely to beat herself by swinging at a pitch out of the zone.
Since Hopkins is graduating only five girls from this year’s section third-place finisher, the prospects for the 2020 season and beyond are bright. The graduating players, in addition to Kurus are first baseman Maci Shatirishvili, third baseman Parker Stoddard and outfielders Maddie Bernt and Morgan Hawley.
Some of the other key players eligible to return next season are starting second baseman Annika Crouser, starting shortstop Taylor Katzenmeyer and outfield regulars Tori Turgeon and Ruth Freiberg. Kelly Boyle and Cass Allen proved to be valuable utility players this season.
Hopkins is one of three Lake Conference teams that will return its starting battery intact. Section champion Edina once again will have it starting pitcher Genevieve Ovsak along with her catcher, Maddie Johnson. Bloomington Kennedy is another team to watch in Section 6AAAA with the return of ace left-handed pitcher Courtney Kopischke.
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