BAD AXE — Entering his 30th season as Bad Axe baseball coach, Wayne Turmell has learned never to overestimate — or underestimate — his team’s finish in the league standings.
That’s why nearly every year he’s cautiously optimistic about evaluating his team’s talent level
And the 2011 season is no exception.
“We should be good defensively, and we have our top pitcher back,” Turmell said. “But our depth is questionable, and we have three sophomores on the team, which means we have some young kids.”
Turmell welcomes back six letterwinners from last season’s team which finished 25-9 overall, 6-5-1 Greater Thumb West. The Hatchets lost in the district finals to Reese last year.
Topping the list of returning players are seniors Derek Susalla, Brett Turmell and Ethan Sisco.
Susalla, a first-team All-GTW infielder, led the team in home runs while Turmell, another first-team All-GTW player, is an excellent defensive first baseman.
Sisco, who earned second-team All-GTW honors, is a four-year varsity player who has pitched in many important games for the Hatchets over the last few seasons.
“Reese, Cass City and Vassar should all be good,” Turmell said. “All Saints and USA might be at our level...”
In softball, coach Don Cieslinski’s team finished 10-22 overall, 2-10 GTW last year.
He figures his six returning letterwinners will help the Hatchets improve on that mark.
“I feel our hitting will be one of our greatest assets this year,” he said. “We are hoping our hitting, along with our defense, will keep us in the games.
“Our six returning letterwinners will play a big role in how we do this season. I feel that they are a little young, but they do have varsity level experience. Experience playing in the GTW can help greatly.”
Heading the list of returning players are senior co-captains Taylor Braun, Amanda Gentner and Julia Geiger. Braun was a second-team All-GTW infielder last year.
“Taylor will be strong at third base, Julia will handle first base, and Amanda can handle shortstop or any place in the outfield,” Cieslinski said.
“Emily Sisco and Alyssa Kociba will handle most of the pitching duties. A very dependable hitter is Tori Orban — she can play the infield or outfield and she has experience at both. I also have some very talented players that are first-year varsity players, and I will depend on them more as the season moves on.
“We are hoping to be very competitive and try to end up in the middle of the league this year. I think that our program has improved and the girls know what it takes to be a winner in the GTW. I think the GTW is one of the toughest leagues to play in, and I also think that the number one spot is up for grabs again this season.”
In girls soccer, veteran coach Dave DeCourval has 12 returning players from a team which finished 11-4-2 overall, 8-3-1 GTC.
“We have a good group of girls who have played with each other for the past three years,” DeCourval said. “Playing together as a team is our greatest strength.”
Heading the list of returning players are seniors Justine Morneau and Samantha Janik — both first-team all-conference performers last season.
“Justine will play both defense and striker — and is equally strong at both positions,” DeCourval said. “And Samantha is coming off a solid season with 14 goals.”
Juniors Alison McVey and Shelby Fligger are back after earning honorable mention all-league last year at midfield. Senior midfielder Sami Rochefort and senior defender Morgan Messing also are back.
“As a team, we hope to compete for the league championship and continue strong into the districts,” DeCourval said.
In track, longtime coach Lee Kahler is excited about both teams this season.
On the girls side, Kahler hopes the squad can repeat as league champion, as well as build on the team’s second-place regional finish.
“We feel that we will be a strong competitor in the league meet as our youngsters grow in experience,” he said.
Kahler also gave a synopsis of this season’s team.
“We look for a great deal of improvement in the field events, especially the discus and shot with the return of Taylor Breault and Tori Batzer, both of whom qualified for many special meets last year as juniors. Cassandra Hanson offers us a strong middle distance runner this year, coming off a fine cross country season. She will be supported by Crystal Schaible and Hailey Richards, both of whom had good cross country seasons last fall. Julianna Fucinari will give us a great deal of help in the 400 and pole vault. Also, returning in the middle distance is Kaitlyn Grifka, who really showed signs of improvement last spring at the end of the season. Taylor Wolschlager, as a junior, gives us a great deal of help in the sprints and the sprint relays. We are looking to Heather Smith, Makenzie Tolin and Marianna Salcido in the hurdles. Madison Champagne will really help us in the shot and discus, giving us a very strong core there. Jordyn Studer and Rachel Breault will round out our shot and discus area. Freshman Kelsey Capling will be another strong member of the pole vault and hurdle group, as well as in the sprints.”
The boys team hopes to improve on last season’s third-place league finish and ninth-place regional showing.
“We feel that we will do better this year in the league and regional because of an overall larger number on the team... Returning from last year who we are counting on will be David Fucinari, who will be a great asset in the sprints and sprint relays, having gotten a lot stronger in the off-season. We will look to Jeremy Pawlowski to also be a distance threat because of his performance in cross country. We will get some new help with juniors Brett Metzger in the vault and sprints, Charlie Prich in the distance races and relays, Jordan Dorsch in shot and discus, Lad Kowalski in shot and discus, and Tyler Price and Connor Studer in the middle and distance races.
“We have expanded the team a great deal, especially in the junior class group, and we have added some excellent field and running event people. These athletes are yet to be tested, but will have a big affect on where this team ends up this year.”
In golf, coach Scott Adams has nine players on his preseason roster.
Heading the list of returning players are first-team all-leaguer Cam Streussnig, second-team all-leaguer Brandon Dean, and honorable mention all-leaguer Jacob Kennedy.
Junior Andrew Batzer and sophomore Colburn Hanson also return.
“I think we can contend for first place this year,” Adams said.
In girls tennis, coach Mark Prescott has a big preseason roster of 19 players.
The Hatchets have one of the top players in the area in senior Anya Odabasic, who is 41-9 for her career at No. 1 singles.
“We have six freshmen who are adding some healthy competition to the eight returning letterwinners,” Prescott said. “The strength of our lineup is our top three singles players who are all seniors — Anya, Lisa Hursin and Alyssa Steinbis. We look to win most of our dual matches.”