For Mandan softball, 2020 marks the last wave of players that have been with the program since it started seven years ago, it just isn’t the storybook ending that these seniors have hoped for.
Across the Missouri, Mandan softball viewed 2020 as a turning point — a large group of seniors ready to leave a legacy for a young program.
“Just showing up every day,” said head coach Ryne Jungling. “We’ve, for the last three years, have been very active in the weight room, and just leading by example has been something that they’ve done really well.”
Mandan was feast or famine at the plate last season, an area of improvement that has been a way of life for the Braves.
“We started really focusing on hitting these past couple years, and I can just see the difference, especially in all of our at-bats,” said senior Lakyn Darras. “Just more confidence when we come up to the plate, and just all of our hitting stats have gone up. Even if we weren’t the best hitters at the beginning, I feel like as myself, I’ve definitely developed in the hitting aspect of the game.”
The power is most apparent, a team that hit a ton of home runs, and it was contagious.
“Lauren Gangl and I have this sort of thing where every time she hits a home run, I hit a home run right after her,” said senior Rylee Stotz. “I think that happened three or four times last season. But once the ball gets going, it’s not going to stop for a pretty decent long time.”
Even with the improvements, it’s hard to stand out in a league that has seen a ton of competition year in and year out.
“The WDA has gotten a lot better,” Jungling said. “When we started out, there were a couple of really strong teams, and then teams that were developing and now it’s pretty much, you go out to the park and you’re going to face a pretty good team.”
With the season canceled, these seniors will move on, but they know the standard they’ve set will lift Mandan as a contender.
Mandan will seek their first state tournament appearance next spring.