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Softball preview: Rose expects to win

Rosemount sophomore Erica Tamminen takes some swings off a tee and into the batting cage during the first practice of the season Monday afternoon. Tamminen is one of several players back who saw varsity time last season for the Irish.

Head coach Tiffany Rose doesn't change the expectations she has for her Rosemount softball team.

Even after losing a class of five all-South Suburban Conference seniors -- including three-year starting pitcher Rachel Hoeppner -- from last year's 6-11 team, Rose said she expects to put a team on the field that is ready to be competitive from Day 1 -- the April 9 home opener against Eastview.

"I've never been a fan of rebuilding years. We're a varsity team and we're there to win, so I'm expecting to take what we have and make a strong varsity team. The expectation is to win games," said Rose, a 1998 Rosemount grad in her second year as head coach. "There's no time to settle into the season in the South Suburban. We want the girls to know whether you're young or old, you can be successful. There's no reason we can't win games."

Sixty potential players reported to the Irish Dome for the first day of practice Monday. Rose is looking for leadership from two of those players in particular, senior captain Summer Lindelien and junior captain Melissa Seldon. Lindelien played in all 17 of the team's games last year a utility player and hit .300, while Seldon saw time in the outfield and pitched 21 innings in support of Hoeppner. Seldon, a left-hander, is expected to see plenty of time in the center of the diamond this season.

"Girls struggle to hit lefties. Melissa hits her spots really well and has been working on her rise ball over the winter. You have to have that good out pitch," Rose said. "She's inexperienced compared to Rachel -- it's hard to sit three years behind someone -- but the upside is she's a very hard worker and you can see it in her face she wants to be a winner."

Other players from last year's team competing for varsity spots include outfielders Hannah Esselman and Erica Tamminen, utility player Grace Longman, first baseman Meghan Schuster, catcher/third baseman Sarah Jacobs and pinch runner Anna Hinderacker. Sophomore Nicole Johnson is also back after being added to the roster for the section tournament.

"I think this group of girls has really good chemistry. They get along really well and in my experience as a coach it seems like how you work on the field and how you work with each other are as important as talent," Rose said. "They love to be together, laugh and joke and get down to business. That could carry them to a good season."

Rose is joined on the Rosemount coaching staff by varsity assistants Kelly Wien and Craig Esselman. The JV coach is Brittney Erdman, the 10th grade coach is Ann Marie Kline and the freshman coach is Nicole Tompkins.