Last season the St. Croix Falls Saints softball team finished fifth in the West Lakeland conference. SCF lost in the first round of the WIAA playoffs to Cumberland. St. Croix Falls lost some key players from last season. Their infield, except for their pitcher, was especially hard hit. Still, head coach Clayton Hanson had a very good feeling for his 2020 Saints team.
“This would have been our last year in the West Lakeland conference and we were poised to make a push this year,” Hanson said. “We have a lot of young talent that could have made a run this year. I was really thinking this could be the year we do well in conference.”
Next season St. Croix Falls will join the Heart O’North conference and will be playing against a different slate of teams. This year was one last chance for the Saints to leave their mark on the West Lakeland conference.
Hanson was looking at great numbers out for softball this season. It looked like about 30 athletes were ready to fill the varsity and junior varsity teams with hopes that there may have been enough to fill a ‘C’ team roster as well. There were six seniors including Hannah Cross, Izzy Langer, Mara Riley, Lexi Backes, Julie Haasnoot and Aryn Rode ready to take the leadership role both on and off of the field.
“I certainly loved playing softball for SCF,” Langer said. “The coaches, players, and parents made it all worthwhile. I will never forget the hard work, determination, and faith that the coaches had in every individual. They always pushed us to be stronger and better not only on the field but also off the field. They treated us as one big family. No matter if you were on the field, in the dugout, on the bus or outside of softball, we always showed our support for one another. With being out for injury my junior season, I was anxious to get back on the field.”
St. Croix Falls would have returned seven letter winners from last season including Cross, Rode, Kaylee Miron, Olivia Miron, Payden Bainbridge, Alise Wiehl and Jordan Lee. No doubt they would have been the foundation of the team.
Many experts feel that the game of softball is built around the pitching staff. Last season St. Croix Falls got several quality innings from then freshman Wiehl. She had several impressive performances including a 7-inning 3-hitter that she threw against Luck/Frederic on May 9. No doubt Wiehl would have had been a huge part of the 2020 pitching staff.
With the sudden change to the spring sports season due to Covid-19 we will now never know how the Saints’ softball team would have done. We can only wonder what might have been.
“I feel for my seniors and all of the girls,” Hanson said. “It seems like spring sports get the short end of the stick constantly, be it weather or other unforeseen circumstances. My seniors are a great group of young women who have worked hard and deserved a chance to be honored in their last year of softball. I have coached many of these girls since they were in grade school, so it breaks my heart that I don’t get to be with them one last time. I know they will all go on to do great things in their lives and I know they will continue to be a part of my program for years to come.”
Sports brings out the best in athletes. It isn’t just about the wins and losses but also the memories made on and off the field.
“Missing my senior year of softball has been very sad,” Cross said. “I miss my team, my coaches, and I miss the game. But, I am very grateful for the memories and friendships made over the last three years.”
“Missing my senior season of softball is something that I will never forget,” Langer added. “I will miss all of the fun van or bus rides, hard work on the field, cheers in the dugouts, supportive teammates, and amazing coaches. Even though our season was cut away, I know we will all be back on the field again sometime this summer. With that being said I would like to thank all of my teammates, coaches, parents, and fans that made SCF softball a team and sport that I will never forget.”