Despite a loss to Stevens Point, young and veteran talent looks poised to elevate Tigers softballBy Paul LeckerSports ReporterMARSHFIELD — The Marshfield softball team looks like it could be on the rise in the Wisconsin Valley Conference this year.After an impressive 3-0 showing at Mauston last Friday and Saturday, which included a WVC win over Wausau West and nonconference victories over sectional foes Eau Claire Memorial and Memonine, the Tigers ran into the buzz saw that is perennial state powerhouse Stevens Point on Tuesday, falling 17-5.The Stevens Point game aside, the Tigers have shown that with a mixture of a few veterans and a number of varsity newcomers, they are a team that should be much improved from last year’s squad that finished just 9-17 overall and 4-8 in the WVC.“The more time we can get on the field, the more reps we take, it’s only going to help us,” Marshfield coach Mike Voss said. “We’re working on the things we need to do because we are a young team but also building confidence by playing games. Every time we make a mistake, hopefully we learn from it and don’t make that mistake a second time.”Marshfield’s top returning player is Lexi Dupee, a second-team all-Wisconsin Valley Conference selection at catcher last season after she hit a team-high .514 with two home runs, nine RBIs, and nine runs scored in league play.Dupee has moved to shortstop this season to make room for one of four freshmen on the varsity roster as Emily Draeger has taken over the catching duties.Megan Donahue will serve as one of the Tigers’ pitchers, and fellow freshman Morgan Nordbeck has started at second base so far this season. Another freshman, Kaitlyn Konrardy, is also on the roster.Donahue will share pitching duties with senior Caitlyn Kozik, a Viterbo University recruit, who is in her fourth varsity season.Both Donahue and Kozik have been among the top hitters for Marshfield thus far this season as the Tigers were off to a 3-1 start and a 1-1 mark in the Wisconsin Valley Conference heading into Thursday’s game at Wisconsin Rapids.Senior Kayla Kluge returns at first base, and junior Mary Kloos and Donahue share time at third base. Sophomores Melissa Roberts and Alyssa Ede and junior Alyssa Wilhelm are all new starters in the outfield.With so many new faces, Voss said he knows the team is a work in progress but the great start last weekend will only help fuel the team as competition heats up over the next month or so.“We got off to a nice start at 3-0, but at the same time, as a coaching staff, we knew there are always things we need to work on,” Voss said. “SPASH is a good measuring stick. The bad thing is we played them the fourth game of the season, and we have a young team that is still adjusting to learning different positions and getting used to playing together. Now we know kind of where we fit.“We can only do so much in practice, and it has to show in games too. The more we play, which in the next four weeks is going to be a lot, hopefully it starts to show eventually.”Marshfield’s next home game is Tuesday against Merrill at the Marshfield Fairgrounds.Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to Hub City Times Sports. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.