Division 3 - Enrollment this year is 252 – Sectional 4 at Mayville
Conference – Big East
Head Coach – Mike LaFever – 7th year – Overall Record is 98-35 – 4 conference titles – 3 Regional titles
Random Lake is about to begin the school’s seventh softball season. Back in 2013 the school hired Mike LaFever to get the program underway and he has answered with four conference championships and three sectional appearancesHe has taken the program from the ground up and into the Division 3 rankings the past few years. His club is favored to win the Big East again this year. However, when queried he said that he sees Mishicot as a big hurdle to get that fifth conference title. When it comes to tournament time Random Lake is again in a half sectional with a horde of private schools. Only Oostburg and Cedar Grove/Belgium join Random Lake in the southeast portion of that sectional. LaFever eyes Shoreland Lutheran and Kenosha St. Joseph as the tougher competition in that half sectional. He will welcome Chaise Arendt who was all conference and all district in 2018. There was a time in the development of high school fastpitch in Wisconsin where teams from the eastern part of the state struggled to get out of the regional level. However, there are now knowledgeable and committed coaches in that part of the state that have forged their programs and are now in the elite in their divisions. Random Lake is certainly one of those programs.
Division 3 – Enrollment this year is 431 – Sectional 1 at Bloomer
Conference – Cloverbelt West with Cadott, Fall Creek, McDonell Central, Osseo-Fairchild, Regis, Stanley-Boyd, Thorp
Head Coach – Chris Maurina – 2nd Year – (19-7 in 2019) – Assistant Coach is Shane Arneson
Chris took over a storied program in that part of the state before the 2018 season began and led the Railroaders to that 19-7 record and a conference record of 11-3 which was good for second place a neighbor just to north out of Chippewa Falls, that being McDonell Central. The Cloverbelt West featured two state qualifiers and a state champion in 2018 with the aforementioned Chippewa Falls school winning the Division 5 state title and always tough Thorp team winning the sectional and winding up second at the state tournament. Maurina says that those two schools will once again be near or at the top of the final conference standings but not if her returning crew has a big season. The Railroaders return all conference players in Karly Maurina a senior pitcher/outfielder, Lydia Berseth a senior infielder, Kate Harris a junior catcher/infielder, Averie Varsho a sophomore infielder and Ally Wagner a sophomore pitcher/outfielder. Harris, was an all-district selection the past two seasons. “We will send a lot of experience across the foul lines and add some solid pitching and some strong offensive players this season,” said the coach. Once tournament time rolls around the coach says that getting to the state tournament means getting past teams such as Prescott, Elk Mound and Stratford. With the players returning and break here or there the Railroaders could make a return to the state tournament, the first since 2009. Altoona has made six trips to the state level (1988, 1991, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2009).
Watertown Luther Prep
Division 3 – Enrollment this year is 417 Sectional 3 at Brodhead
Conference – Capitol North Division (Columbus, Lake Mills, Lakeside Lutheran Lodi, Poynette)
Head Coach – Nick Trebesch- 1st Year – Assistants are Kelli Doell and Marty Pagel
The Phoenix and the Capitol North Conference welcome first year coach Nick Trebesch to the mix as one of two new coaches in the North (also at Lodi). The going isn’t easy in this conference but the Phoenix has won the conference title twice back in the earlier 2000s. The return a host of players from last season excites the coach. He says that if they can develop some pitching their hitters and their defense will produce good result. “We hope to find that improved pitching and hope to hit with more power,” he said. “With many returning players we hope to be more aggressive in the circle, in the batter’s box and on the base paths. Losing only one senior is means that save for her the entire varsity team returns in 2019. They gained valuable experience last season. Luther Prep is a unique high school in Wisconsin. Being that it is a prep school they have students from many states. From his perspective the coach sees Poynette and Columbus has the Phoenix’ toughest foes in the conference while Poynette and Marshall are the teams to look out for in the half sectional.
Division 3 – Enrollment this year is 457 – Sectional 3 Brodhead
Conference – Capitol North Division (Columbus, Lake Mills, Lakeside Lutheran Lodi, Poynette, Luther Prep)
Head Coach – Jim Clift – 6th Year – Overall Record 40-87 – Assistant Coaches Sam Fisher, Steve Alexander, Tim Ritter
The L-Cats had their best season ever in 2018 and made some waves in the Capitol North taking third place with a 6-4 record. They played in a regional final, losing to a strong Brodhead team 1-0. Head Coach Jim Clift has done a great job of keeping things going by always showing a positive attitude and it shows on the field as well. The L-Cats welcomed a bunch of freshman last season and when meshed with some excellent upper class players moved up in the standings. Clift says that the teams’ strengths in 2019 will be great team chemistry, a mix of experience and more young talent coming in. He says with some work getting all the players to understand their roles within the bigger picture of the team this team could do big things. The Capitol North has become a very strong, six team conference with the addition of the L-Cats pressing onward. The conference boasts the defending Division 3 state champion along with three other top notch clubs. Returning players for the L-Cats are Briana Jessie, Jessie Clift, Lexy Topel and pitcher Taylor Roughen (pronounced Rowan). In addition to those four all conference selections Clift says that sophomores Syd Schwartz and Payton Itans will add depth. “There are some tough teams to compete with in this conference but we can compete with them. We just have to remember that the games are played on the field,” said the coach.