The Pella High Lady Dutch varsity softball team was 16-20 a year ago.
The team got hot at the end of the season and they came within a win of reaching the 2018 State Tournament In Fort Dodge.
Last summer ended with a setback to Dallas Center-Grimes in the Regional Championship game.
Missing from the 2018 squad are three graduated seniors, Kinzi Van Wyk, Destiny Brown and Sabrina Tallman. Van Wyk and Brown were each named to the Little Hawkeye Conference top all-conference squads at the end of the season.
Back for her second year at the helm is Dutch Head Coach Teresa Thompson.
Prior to coaching the Dutch she served as an assistant softball coach at Central College for eight years.
The 2019 Dutch have some high hopes entering the season and it all centers around the return of seven starters back on the field.
The list includes seniors Maddie Parks, Sidnie Van Vark, Alizabeth Van Dusseldorp, Maddy Rempe and Elly Cairney.
Parks is a shortstop/pitcher. Van Vark is the catcher, Van Dusseldorp, Rempe and Cairney are all outfielders, with Cairney playing at third as well.
Parks returns with the highest batting average on the Dutch squad with a .358 clip a year ago. Van Dusseldorp was strong at .333 and Almond hit at a .320 average.
Van Wyk had the top pitching record for Pella in 2018 at 10-9, but she has moved on. Parks was 6-8 pitching in 2018.
The rest of the Pella starters returning to the team from a year ago are juniors Ally Almond and Courtney Thompson. Almond patrols first and Thompson is a defensive gem at second.
A total of 28 players have reported to practice for Pella in grades 8-12. Coach Thompson said the numbers are good and it’s up slightly from a year ago.
“The strength of the team is our returning starters,” Thompson said. “The weakness is getting the team to believe in themselves and that takes some time to build confidence.”
Thompson selects Dallas Center-Grimes, Oskaloosa and Indianola as the teams to beat in the Little Hawkeye. She labels the Dutch as a potential darkhorse in the league.
Helping Parks with the pitching load for the varsity will be Ella Corbin, a freshman, and Ally Almond, a junior.
In closing Thompson replied, “Our team has a lot of fight in them. They are competitors and they have high expectations. They have the skill and will to do it. They are just needing some more consistency.”
Assisting Thompson with the team are coaches Joe Van Hemert and Katie Gravert.
Odds and Ends
A rugged non-conference slate faced the Dutch to open the year. Teams like Ballard, Lynnville-Sully, North Polk and Eddyville-Blakesburg were early teams the Dutch were slated to play.
After week one of the season the Dutch are off to a 3-0 start having knocked off Ballard, Lynnville-Sully and North Polk.
Pella faces cross-town rival Pella Christian for the first time June 19 in a league doubleheader at PC.