New Era of Softball Begins
By Sammy Muetzel ’22, Captain
Softball season is finally here, and we couldn’t be more excited to get into the swing of things and work towards our trek back to Mankato! Coming off a great season last year making it to the state tournament, we are back with vengeance this year to not only make it to state but win state. However, we have had some challenges this season so far. There have been constant schedule changes due to weather, and we have also moved to play at the University of Northwestern complex. It's challenging to have a new home field, but we are very grateful that we were able to play our home games at the best collegiate field in the metro.
Even though some of those changes have been difficult, none of that matters as long as we get to play the game we love with the people we love. We have had some amazing changes happen to our program as well. We are ecstatic at the new additions to our coaching staff. Adding Aaron Vail, Nikki Conway ’02, and Teisha Devine to our coaching staff was a great step for our softball program to take.
Our program is thrilled with our new coaching staff this year, and it has been a great transition from last year to this year. Our head coach Aaron Vail, who previously coached for Division 1 program Furman, is just as thrilled as we are to have him here.
“Having this opportunity to come to CDH and to lead this program has been a huge blessing to my life and the life of my family,” Vail said.
Coach Vail has not only coached at many Division 1 programs, but he also played men’s fast pitch as well. Making the jump from coaching collegiately to high school can be difficult, but he is enjoying the challenge. “Transitioning back to high school from NCAA Division 1 is very difficultm,” he said. “There is significantly less time to implement systems, develop athletes and to build and incorporate culture. Everything is expedited inside of a constantly changing, 13 week sprint of a season. Our staff has to be very intentional about what we do daily by prioritizing what’s important now.”
Our program also welcomed CDH alum Conway. Coach Conway played softball at CDH, and then continued her collegiate career at St. Thomas where she was a two-time All American, two-time national champion, and leads the school in home runs.
“It has been so rewarding to be back at CDH coaching softball where I once played, and to see how much the game has grown,” she said. “Being on the CDH campus brings back lots of great memories for me both as an athlete and a person, and it has been fun to watch our players and team create those memories in their lives and softball careers!”
Finally, we welcomed Teisha Devine who played collegaitely at St. Mary’s. There, she was a three-time All-MIAC and NFCA All-Region selection, national champion, and holds the school record for complete games, shutouts, and ERA. Along with our great coaching staff, we also have great leadership from our team as well. Our team is led by our six seniors, Sammy Muetzel ’22, Anna Caruso ’22, Maggie Heuermann ’22, Tyler Mader ’22, Maggie Dolan ’22, and Ryan Courtney ’22.
“We have an outstanding group of senior leaders who take pride in what they do on and off the field. They have taken initiative to set high standards for the program and continue to work hard to be intentional and master the ordinary every single day,” Coach Conway said.
We are very thankful that we have such a great group of seniors to help lead us through our tough conference. In my opinion, our conference is the best in the state, but our team this year, no matter the outcome, has been able to battle with every team we’ve played. As challenging as our conference is, we are confident that with our well rounded players, coaches, and leadership we can compete with any team.
Being in as tough a conference as we are, every game is a big game. However, a few standout games where we are going to have to really come to play are against Park, East Ridge, Forest Lake and White Bear next week along with Stillwater and Woodbury the following weeks.
While our six seniors will be key to our success this season, we also have a few other individual standouts as well. One of our key players this season is our ninth grade pitcher Brooke Nesdahl ’25. Nesdahl started for us last year as an eighth grader, and she was a big part of our successes last season. She is a great asset to our team, and she has outstanding mental toughness in the circle, especially for only a freshman. Another standout for us this year is Junior Sophie Black ’23. She also started for us last year, and she is one of our strongest hitters. Black is a great power hitter, and she had our team's first home run in our game last night against Roseville.
While these players are just a few of our standout individuals, we will need our whole team rolling if we want to be successful this season and make it back to Mankato. Our trek to Mankato is going to look a bit different this year because we changed sections again. We went from section 3AAA to 4AAA this year, but no matter the section we still have the same goal. The teams that stand in our way this year are St. Anthony, Mahtomedi, Hill-Murray, St. Paul Harding, St. Paul Academy & Summit School, St. Paul Johnson, St. Paul Como Park, and Totino-Grace.
The section playoffs start May 23rd, and the team is very excited to compete against new teams and go back to back years to the state tournament. I can’t reiterate enough how special and talented our team is, and I can’t wait to see our growth and the strides we make by the end of the year. We can’t wait for you all to come watch us play!! Go Raiders!!!