Madison Keith and her Geneva softball teammates aren’t shy about their lofty goals for the 2015 Vikings. With 10 players – including eight starters – back from last season’s 21-win team, that reaction is natural. Still, Keith and her fellow seniors make sure to stress the team still must work to meet its expecations. Touching base with Kane County Chronicle sports editor Kevin Druley for the latest installment of the Weekend Chit-chat, Keith, an outfielder, addressed the Vikings’ experience, camaraderie and more. Here’s an edited transcript:
The team has quite a few girls back. What’s the overall outlook?
Well, our team is very, very close this year, which is going to be extremely nice. I think we’re going to do well. We’re going to compete. And I’m hoping to look at a winning season this year. … There’s a lot of returners. So most of our infield is going to be the same infield you saw last year. But we should come out and compete this year. I’m super excited.
But things are a little more fluid in the outfield?
Right now, we do have a couple new outfielders, so we aren’t entirely sure. But hoping around the same lineup as last year. … I was center field, it was Sarah Baurer in left and then Rylie Porretto is in right.
How does that returning experience affect the chemistry?
We’re so much closer just because we know each other and we have been together for – some of us – two, three years. So it is, it’s nice to see familiar faces, but it’s also fun seeing the new girls on the team. Because they get to experience the closeness, too, and hopefully carry it on after us seniors move on.
Being from Illinois, does the up-and-down pattern of spring weather become second-nature?
Yeah, I mean it doesn’t really affect us too much anymore. Most of us play fall ball. It’s like that all the time, so it’s really not a big deal.
Who is your offseason team?
I play for Kane County Xplosion 18U, so Mike Keufler. He coaches over at Kaneland [as an assistant].
And Paige, his daughter, is their catcher, right?
Yeah, she’s one of my best friends. … I like to know how she’s doing during the season. We actually will play them. We have a doubleheader against them later in the season [May 9], but, I mean, my travel team is really close, too. … Our high school team is probably as close as we are with our travel team, as well.
And it seems like coach [Greg] Dierks keeps it upbeat with the Vikings, so that must help?
Oh yeah, he does. And he keeps us focused. At the beginning of the year, we talk about our goals, and we have those goals set in mind, and we’re going to try and go after them. And I think it’s nice that the whole team thinks the same way. We al want the same thing.
Did one of the goals have to do with the St. Charles teams?
They’re always strong, and they’re always competitive. So, I mean, once we play them, we’ll have to see the outlook, but they’ll always be competitive teams.
I know baseball has changed the bat efficiency in recent years, but do you know of any similar discussion with softball?
They haven’t changed the bats, but there’s been discussion of the balls actually changing. They apparently come off faster. … We’re using the Wilsons this year, and the Wilsons have bigger seams. … It doesn’t slow it down; it’s actually a lot easier to grip, which is really nice. Especially on wet days.