Dickinson State softball is coming off a North Star championship season, but the offseason was anything but celebratory.
Dickinson State’s roster size isn’t what it once was.
“When the season started, we had 17,” Fleury said. “Then we went to 16 in the fall. Then we went to 15, then 14, and it was just a trickle-down effect.”
It’s a problem Coach Fleury hasn’t seen before at DSU.
“As a coach you get frustrated,” Fleury said, “and obviously, you take it personally when a kid quits for this reason or that reason.”
It wasn’t easy on the players who were staying around, either.
“It was definitely shocking,” pitcher Abi Brooks said. “Some of my close friends decided not to play anymore.”
“I lost some friends,” catcher Claire Shoffit said. “It sucks not playing with them anymore, but it’s kind of a blessing in disguise because this team is really close.”
That mentality is something all 13 remaining players have embraced as they came into the season.
“You realize that the strong ones are the ones that stay,” Brooks said, “and you build your relationship off that, and you become a lot closer, and a close-knit team because of it.”
Of course, it still means the Blue Hawks have to be creative in how they grind out a season with just 13 athletes.
“They’ve bought into what we’ve asked,” Fleury said. “We’ve put kids in different positions where we’ve needed them. We’ve moved them around, and they don’t say boo.”
The challenge may be great, but the rewards are greater.
“We really all have to work a lot harder to be able to produce and do what we’ve done in previous years,” Brooks said. “We all want it so much, and I think that is really going to play to our advantage.”
This weekend.. Dickinson State lost a four-game set to Bellevue… On Friday… they start a four-game series with Dakota State