01STOCK_SOFTBALL

JANESVILLE

When Janesville Craig’s softball team takes the field for the first time today, coach Kristen Worm knows 2021 will be a season like no other.

COVID-19 restrictions canceled the 2020 season, and with masks required at all times and dugouts off limits this season, the game will have a different look.

Worm couldn’t care less. She knows her team will embrace the situation and make the most of it.

“The girls have been great so far,” Worm said. “We’re moving ahead every day and are looking forward to playing at Memorial.

“We know things will be different, but we will make those things work to keep everyone healthy, and hopefully, complete a full season.”

Craig finished 11-13 in 2019, including 8-10 in the Big Eight.

Worm welcomes back one of the top players in the conference in Abigail Humphrey.

The senior was first-team all-Big Eight in 2019 and starts at shortstop.

Other infielders will likely be sophomore Josie Rammer at third base, freshman Bella Vitaioli at second base. and senior Samantha Flint or sophomore Presley Stanley at first base, when she’s not pitching,

Freshman Addi Wobig, sophomore Morgan Bloomquist and Flint are vying for the catching duties.

“We have quite a bit of young talent,” Worm said.

“But for our freshmen and sophomores, their first high school ball being played will be at the varsity level,” Worm said. “We tried to preview some things during our contact days, but many of our players were out for volleyball, cross country or tennis, so a lot of these girls picked up their glove for the first time our first day of practice.”

Sophia Vitaioli is the lone returning starter in the outfield. The senior will start in center field. Other outfield candidates are juniors Maddie McCormick and Madelyn Mayer, along with seniors Hanna Albrecht and Maddie Burrow.

On the bump, Worm expects freshman Bailey Bienema, along with sophomores Presley Stanley and Bailey Valet to log the majority of innings.

“With the shortened season, we play 3 to 4 games a week,” Worm said. “We’re going to have to rely on the entire pitching staff to get things done.

“And with missing last season, we only have four returning starters, so there is a lot to learn in the first week, but everyone is in the same boat.

“More than anything, though, it’s just great to be back on the field.”

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