Young, untested Maidens aiming to get back to state
RONAN — Last year, the Maidens had one of their most successful seasons in a long time. Unfortunately not many of the players that achieved so much last year will be back this season.
The Maidens lost six seniors to graduation from the team that went 13-4 in the regular season and advanced to the final day of the state tournament.
Brit Clairmont, Chelsey Bourdon and Katie Andrews are the only returning starters from last year and will try to lead a very young team back to the state tournament.
“I think the girls that played last year expect to win, but we’re young so I’m not sure anybody knows what to expect,” said Tom Peterson, who took over the reins from Lucky Larson as Ronan head coach. Peterson, who took Mission to the state tournament last year, said the three starters from last year will help him get the most from his team.
Both Bourdon and Clairmont are four-year starters and bring a lot of experience and leadership to the field.
Bourdon will be back at shortstop to anchor the Maidens’ middle infield.
“She’s (Bourdon) is a hard worker and she’s a leader. She’s very vocal. She’s very confident and she tries hard,” Peterson said.
With four new starters in the infield, Clairmont will help them from making too many mistakes at first base.
“She’s (Clairmont) a vacuum at first base. Nothing gets by her. Anything close and they’re out, so she’s just very solid defensively,” Peterson said.
Andrews, who started in right field last season, will probably move to catcher to help fill the void left by Jordan Strozzi’s departure. Peterson said that Andrews played a lot of summer ball and just likes the game.
“She’s (Andrews) going to do whatever we ask of her and she does whatever we ask ... she’s just a hard-working kid,” Peterson said.
The Maidens will have a hard time trying to make up for the loss of their starting battery from last year of Kaylee Larson and Strozzi and their second baseman Kelsey Clairmont. All three of them hit over .400 last season.
Peterson said that the three are irreplaceable and it’s unrealistic to expect his young players to play at their level so early.
“We got a long ways to go to even come close to filling their shoes,” Peterson said.
Lindsey Clairmont, a sophomore, saw some playing time last season and batted in the .200s. Peterson said that she should help the Maidens’ offense this year, he just isn’t sure from what position. Lindsey has been practicing at catcher, second base and in the outfield and Peterson isn’t sure which one of these she’ll play opening day against Libby.
Sophomores Paige Delaurenti and Bethany Coleman have been battling it out to takeover for Larson as pitcher. Delaurenti pitched for the Maidens last season, but is injured. Peterson is hoping she’ll be healthy at the start of the season.
“Bethany (Coleman) is a very hard worker and right now she’s looking to be our ace,” Peterson said.
Chloe Clairmont, a junior who transferred from Alaska, has impressed Peterson in practice. He said she has shown a lot of potential and should be on the starting roster on the season opener.
But Peterson is not sure what his starting lineup will be on opening day.
“It’s so hard right now, nobody’s really separated themselves in a lot of the spots,” Peterson said.
Despite the uncertainty heading into the season, Peterson is certain where he wants his team to be at the end of the season.
“We want to make it to state. That’s always going to be our goal. I don’t care what we have, our goal is always to make it to state,” Peterson said.
Ronan moves to the Northwestern A this season and will have to be one of the top three teams to advance to the state tournament.
Peterson said that historically, Polson and Libby are always tough and Columbia Falls have been playing a lot of summer ball and have gotten tougher. He isn’t sure what kind of team Whitefish will field.쇓