{This article has been updated to correct an error.}
Sometimes the rafters get in the way, and sometimes the partition, rolled and hanging above everything, keeps what it catches. So goes softball practice in a gymnasium. In other parts of the country not even that far from here they're playing golf. We're driving on three feet of lake ice yet and playing ball in a gym.
“We shoveled the ball fields yesterday,” said Courtney Loegering, “and this morning it snowed.” Loegering is the first-year head coach for the Firebird girls varsity softball team.

Sometimes the rafters get in the way, and sometimes the partition, rolled and hanging above everything, keeps what it catches.  So goes softball practice in a gymnasium.  In other parts of the country not even that far from here they’re playing golf.  We’re driving on three feet of lake ice yet and playing ball in a gym.

“We shoveled the ball fields yesterday,” said Courtney Loegering, “and this morning it snowed.”  Loegering is the first-year head coach for the Firebird girls varsity softball team.

Loegering said she’s got a pretty strong core, albeit a relatively young group of players in total.  “We’ve got some ninth graders, sophomores, a junior and a couple of seniors,” she said.  “My hope is that the younger players will learn from the older ones, will see what they do that makes them so good at different positions.”

Today was a different kind of practice.  The varsity took the gym for a while for a little warmup before taking fungo from Loegering.  Then they went to the classroom for a test.  “They’ve had so many coaches I need to make sure what they know,” she said.  “I need to make sure they have a good understanding of the fundamentals, but also of strategy and positions.  So this is where we start.”

Loegering said she wants to make sure she can have players who are utility.  “Not everyone likes the outfield—I played outfield and loved it—but everyone needs to know how to play it, what’s required there and at any other position.”  She says she’s got some position players, like senior Alex Palmer at shortstop, but even they can play anywhere on the field.  “I moved Alex over to first and it was like she’s always played there.”  And it helps that Palmer can throw a rope.  “She’s got a very strong arm and excellent form.”

Pitching is still questionable, said Loegering.  She has a couple of prospects, but they’ll need time on the mound.  “Abby Johnson I’m moving to pitcher,” she said.  “She can do it.  She’s athletic.”

“I figure we’ll do well to stay in the middle this season,” said Loegering.  “This is a good group, and their talent will just improve.”