Germantown — New softball coach Amy Barbiaux knows she's replacing a legend in Rich Anderson, so she and assistant Kurt Raguse are going to work with the abundant tools they have at their disposal to carry on the strong tradition that the Warhawks have built over the years.
"It's gone smoothly so far," said Barbiaux. "With change, there's also some transition time, but the kids have good and ready to go right from the start."
Anderson, who is the head coach over at Brookfield East, left a veteran squad for Barbiaux and Raguse, including five seniors. They include pitcher/utility player Hannah Klebesadel, outfielders Taylor Eichstaedt and Kate Benson, infielder Jennifer Tschetter and catcher/utility player Kelsey Griebling.
Starters for the Warhawks include junior first baseman Erika Swoboda, the top returning hitter from last season, Tschetter at second, sophomore shortstop Addy Green, and junior third baseman Jennifer Weyker.
Klebesadel and junior Lauren Renard will share the pitching duties, while junior Kelsey Smith and Griebling will split up the catching responsibilities.
The outfield is still a competitive mix, featuring Benson and Eichstaedt, along with juniors Sarah Artz and Paige Grim and sophomore Jessica Cemke.
The Warhawks, who finished 19-8 last season, will have the same challenge as last season, trying to usurp returning state D1 runner-up and North Shore champ Homestead, which returns a high-powered battery. Germantown lost three times to the Highlanders last season, including in the WIAA sectional final.
Barbiaux is confident that the team will be that competitive again. Germantown recently won its opener, 12-2, over North Shore rival Whitefish Bay.
"We're going to have strong bats up and down the line-up," said Barbiaux. "We'll be a hitting team. So far, it's been encouraging. We've had a great start. What's really nice, is that it looks like we have pitching throughout the program and that's a great credit to our Little League. They've helped provide us with great facilities and great talent."
Both will be put to the test this Saturday, when the Warhawks host their annual Germantown Invitational. The eight-team event will feature area powerhouses from Menomonee Falls, Muskego, Greenfield and New Berlin Eisenhower, along with Kettle Moraine Lutheran, West Bend West and Shoreland Lutheran.
Play will start at 1 p.m. with the Warhawks challenging West on the main varsity field near Kennedy Middle School. The nearby junior varsity diamond will also be used along with Freistadt and other area facilities.
Semifinals are slated for 2:30 p.m. with the title game tentatively slated for 4:15 p.m. at the main varsity field. A full consolation draw is also set.
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