Claiming their turf

Ellie Koechner and Maddie Mautino

It is a warm June day where the sun is shining and there is a slight breeze that makes the heat comfortable. The girl takes a deep breath and steps onto her home field, ready for practice. The turf crunching beneath her feet and her anticipation is high. During the summer of 2021 both the softball and baseball fields got renovated due to anonymous donor. This means that excitement is high and the players have big goals set for the future. Senior Keely Pilcher has played for the Saints girls softball team every year of her high school career and shares her excitement for the upcoming season on the new field. ‘“I’m really excited to be able to play on our home field this year. Hopefully we can get as many people to show up as possible. It is awesome to be back at our home field, Mount Mercy was great, it just did not feel the same,” Pilcher said. With high excitement comes big goals. Junior Duanna Coyle, who plays for the Xavier girls softball team, shares the expectations she is holding for herself. “My goals for this season is to become both a better teammate on and off the field” Coyle said. Head Coach Nikki Gahring is also looking foward to the upcoming season while she reflects on past seasons that were not spent at the Saints home field. “One of the things I am looking forward to this season he’s being back on our home field for our first normal season since 2019,” Gahirng said. “With covid and the derecho in 2020 and the field renovations in 2021, it’s going to be a great feeling to be back at home with the increase of occupancy and excitement.” With her senior season approaching, Pilcher has goals that she hopes to accomplish. “I’m looking forward to being able to play on the new field as a senior and just to have a great season with this team! I’m excited to see where this season takes us and hopefully that will be to Fort Dodge for state,” Pilcher said. Coyle shares how she is going to step up this season as well. “This season I am going to really focus on building a better relationship with the underclassmen,” Coyle said. “It is really important to have a good bond with my teammates and creating a bond with them now will help me to be a better leader when I am a senior next year.” Coyle could not have this motivation without the help of Pilcher. “Keely has always been one of the leaders in our team, she leads the team by cheering us on and giving us tough love when we make mistakes both on and off the field. This year will be a little different for her, especially when she’s the only senior, but I believe that she will do a great job,” Coyle said. Coach Gahring has seen the team grow and achieve different things. Though each season has different goals, the main one is getting back to Fort Dodge. “The goal for every season is to return to Fort Dodge and that is the same goal this year. There will be many new faces on the field this year with a lot of talent put into action,” Gahring said. Pilcher wants to show her gratitude this year to the anonymous donor this year. In doing so the team finds it important to play this season for them. “The donation of the field means a lot because it shows us how much support we have. They believe in us so much, their donation makes us want to play harder to thank them for their support and everything they have done for the program,” Pilcher said. Be sure to come out to the new softball field and cheer on the Xavier Saints as they get to experience their new home field. Come support the Saints on Tuesday, May 24 at 5:30 at Iowa City West.