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Combining forces

Alden-Conger, Glenville-Emmons softball teams combine

After playing two years as a football co-op and one year as a baseball co-op, Alden-Conger and Glenville-Emmons have decided to come together once again. This time, the schools will bring together the two softball teams for their first female team in the partnership.

According to Alden-Conger Athletic Director Paul Ragatz, the conjoining of the two teams comes as a result of low numbers from both schools last season. Ragatz said Alden-Conger did not have any juniors or seniors on the team and had only 13 girls total go out for the team.

“Even though we knew we had a very large and athletic freshman class this school year, we knew we would (have) to have multiple freshman in our starting lineup.” Ragatz said. “From my understanding, the Glenville-Emmons softball team also had low numbers and a challenging season in 2017, so we knew it would be mutually beneficial for both schools and softball programs.”

Alden-Conger won just one game in 2017, while Glenville-Emmons won two games — one of which was over Alden-Conger.

Even with the combining of the two teams, there is still only one senior on the roster. However, the team will be loaded with talent at the junior and sophomore levels, including All-Conference pitcher/shortstop Erika Bute and All-Conference honorable mention Trinity Newman. There will also be 16 returning letter winners.

After coaching the Glenville-Emmons team for the past 15 years, Lisa Ziebell will return as head coach of the first-year program.

Alden-Conger finished last season with one win, while Glenville-Emmons had two. With the conjoining of the two programs, the team returns 16 letter winners, but only one senior. – Colleen Harrison/Albert Lea Tribune

“Combining these two programs has so many advantages, I am very excited to be a part of this co-op,” she said. “Yes, there will be challenges along the way. My biggest weakness right now is not knowing the (Alden-Conger) girls as well as I would like. Knowing the girls is a huge plus to me as a coach. Each and every athlete is different, you have to learn what motivates them and what type of coaching they respond to.”

Ziebell is confident she will be able to build a strong relationship with each of the girls on the team. She is also excited to work with assistant coach Sarah Attig once again. Ziebell said they coached together a few years ago and her opinions and knowledge of the game will be a big asset to her.

“With the Glenville-Emmons upperclassmen, plus Alden-Conger’s veteran juniors and 14 freshman, I believe they will be very competitive,” Ragatz said. “Also, the leadership of veteran coaches (Ziebell and Attig) will certainly form these two groups of girls into a solid team and place them in a position to succeed.”

Because Alden-Conger was scheduled to be in the Valley Conference and Glenville-Emmons was scheduled to play in the Southeast Conference, the co-op team will play both conference schedules and not play any non-conference games.

“Improvement is needed from game to game,” Ziebell said. “We all must learn together along the way. I stress together, because this is the only way we will accomplish what we set out to do.”

Alden-Conger/Glenville-Emmons is set to get its season started April 10 with a game at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton.

About Tyler Julson

Tyler Julson covers sports for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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