Fastpitch Softball: Former player takes over as Menahga's head coach
Lindsay Hendrickson inherits a young, but talented team.
MENAHGA – A former player will take over as head coach of a young, but talented Menahga fastpitch softball team this spring.
Lindsay Hendrickson, who played softball for the Braves in 2016 and 2017 and played softball at Central Lakes College in 2018 and 2019, will take over Menahga’s program after serving as the varsity assistant coach last season.
Hendrickson will rely on the nine returning letterwinners to lead the Braves this spring. That group features seniors Michaela Skoog (first base), Molly Hendrickson (outfield) and Journie Schoon (catcher, outfield); sophomores Janelle Hendrickson (center field, middle infield) and Aili Anderson (catcher); and freshmen Leah Weaver (pitcher, third base), Joie Koll (pitcher), Erica Johnson (catcher) and Anna Pietila (shortstop, second base).
That group helped lead the Braves to a 6-8 record for sixth place in the Park Region Conference standings and a 7-14 overall record last season. Menahga received the No. 8 seed in the South for the Section 8AA tournament and was eliminated with a 9-7 loss to No. 9 Ottertail Central.
Menahga ended the season averaging 5.5 runs a game while allowing 8.5 runs a game. The Braves had a team batting average of .270 and a team ERA of 5.14.
Koll handled most of the pitching duties last season, going 4-7 with a 4.17 ERA in 15 appearances, and batted .310 with nine runs and nine RBI in 21 games. Anderson batted .328 with eight runs and a team-leading 13 RBI in 20 games. Skoog played in all 21 games and hit .339 with 11 runs and 11 RBI. Koll and Anderson earned Park Region Conference honors while Skoog received all-conference honorable mention consideration.
Molly Hendrickson also played in all 21 games, hitting .218 with 16 runs scored and two RBI. Janelle Hendrickson played in 20 games, batting .192 with 16 runs scored and five RBI. Weaver played in 18 games and hit .238 with four runs and four RBI and went 0-1 on the mound in three appearances. Schoon played in 12 games and hit .200 with three runs. Pietila played in 10 games and hit .143 with three runs and two RBI. Johnson scored one run in eight games.
Looking to replace the spots left by the graduation of Timbr Berttunen (.291 average, 18 runs, nine RBI), Jadeyn Dissmore (.304 average, eight RBI, seven runs, 1-1 record, 6.18 ERA) and Rachel Marjamaa (.296 average, two runs, three RBI, 2-5 record, 6.69 ERA) and competing for varsity spots will be junior Mia Kicker (infield), eighth graders Elise Torola (outfield) and Jana Skoog (pitcher), and seventh grader Kyah Jantz (utility player). Starting the season on junior varsity will be Maddie Peterson, Hannah Martin, Bridget Aho, Haylee Aho, Isabelle Aho, Kiana Skoog, Hailey Peterson, Janae Torma, Macie Josephson, Kelsey Hendrickson, Jada Hendrickson, Olivia Aho and Kaydence Lake.
“Goals this season are to take things step by step and build off of them throughout the year and hopefully be where we need to be at playoff time,” said Hendrickson. “Our long-term goals are to establish a fundamentally strong program that'll always be in contention come tournament time.”
Hendrickson is counting on the Braves to put a competitive team on the field in hopes of improving in the conference and section standings. Menahga finished sixth in the Park Region standings behind New York Mills (11-3), Parkers Prairie (10-4), Sebeka (8-6), Pillager (7-7) and Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale (7-7) last season. Hawley defeated Pequot Lakes 8-7 in the Section 8AA championship game.
“My expectations are to field a fundamentally sound team and create a positive environment while doing so. The keys to meeting these are to teach the girls the game little by little without overwhelming them,” said Hendrickson. “Overall we're a young team, but as long as we stay healthy, we should be competitive in both the conference and the section.”