Spring Sports Preview: Bigger batch of players comes to bat for Wolverine softball team

The Wolverines first two games have been postponed and their first game is planned to be Tuesday, April 12, at Pillager.

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Wadena-Deer Creek head softball coach Tracy Jack guides Hailey Kircher through a bunting exercise during preseason practice.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

WADENA — There’s considerable growth in the Wolverine softball program for 2022 and head coach Tracy Jack is pleased to see those girls she started teaching years ago are now entering some key positions on the varsity level.

“I project that we will improve our record from last year and be very competitive in all of the games we play,” Jack said. “This year our pitching is much more consistent.”

With growth in the pitching area, the team looks to give up far fewer free runs beyond those that the other teams will have to earn.

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Freshman Jenna Dykhoff tosses to teammates during practice Monday, March 21, 2022.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

The team ended the season 8-13 last year. They graduated five seniors including the starting outfield, Katelyn Gardner, Madyson Moats and Emma Hinton; Nevada Schulz, an all conference player; and Myja Nemeth, who was a pitcher and shortstop for the team.


There may be only two seniors on board this year, Jamie Barthel (third base) and Chloe Kapphahn (first base and pitching), but the underclassmen are eager to step up to fill the needs.

“The underclassmen are really stepping it up and are showing that they are able to compete at a higher level and are excited to compete at a higher level,” Jack said. Having watched them play through elementary and now into high school, Jack is pleased to see the growth.

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Junior Mercedes Schulz bunts in the Wadena-Deer Creek middle/high school gym Monday, March 21, 2022.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

There are over 45 girls in the softball program this year, more than Jack has seen in her eight years as head coach. Not just more girls, but more girls playing year round to improve their experience in the sport.

“There are girls that play all summer long and there are girls that play fall ball. They are putting in time to get better outside of March through May,” she said.


The Dykhoff sisters, freshman Jenna and eighth grader Jada, are two of those that have been remaining focused on bettering their game in the off season.

Adding to the leadership is junior Mercedes Schulz. She dealt with injuries last year, but is ready to play this season.

“Just with her knowledge of the game and situations, she’s seen as a big defensive leader on the team,” Jack said. She also bats from both sides of the plate, which can be a big boost to team batting.

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Freshman Montana Carsten bunts during practice Monday, March 21, 2022.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

Montana Carsten, Hailey Kircher and the Dykhoff sisters will likely be the pitching crew for the Wolverines this year.

Returning letter winners this year include Barthel, Kapphahn, Schulz, Kircher, Addison Carr, Carsten and Jenna Dykhoff.

Look for the girls to face stiff competition from the New York Mills team, who have been leading the conference now for several years. Sebeka is another tough group as they return the Park Region Conference most valuable pitcher.


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Junior Haylee Dickey prepares to bunt during practice Monday, March 21, 2022.
Michael Johnson / Pioneer Journal

Jack shared appreciation to her assistant coach Dirk Schulz who took the initiative to clear the softball field of snow so the team should have significantly more time on the field. The team was able to hit the outfield on the first official day of practice back in March, but the snow has since returned with a vengeance, postponing their first two events so far.

Coaching staff

Jack is joined by assistant varsity coach Dirk Schulz. Keth Ferris coaches junior varsity. Hannah Nelson and Megan Heino are volunteer assistants for JV and varsity. Junior high coaches include Brooke Umland and Kyle Petermeier.

Varsity roster

  • Jamie Barthel (12)

  • Chloe Kapphahn (12)

  • Mercedes Schulz (11)

  • Hailey Kircher (11)

  • Haylee Dickey (11)

  • Madelyn Gallant (11)

  • Ella Stroeing (11)

  • Macie Moore (10)

  • Addison Carr (9)

  • Montana Carsten (9)

  • Jenna Dykhoff (9)

  • Amsale Loer (9)

  • Jada Dykhoff (8)


HOME: 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 5, against Sebeka- POSTPONED

HOME: 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 7, against Menahga- POSTPONED

AWAY: 4 p.m., Tuesday, April 12 @ Pillager, doubleheader

HOME: 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 14, against Parkers Prairie

HOME: 4:30 p.m., Monday April 18, against Long Prairie-Grey Eagle

AWAY: 4:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 19, @ Sebeka- DOUBLEHEADER

AWAY: 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 21, @ Menahga- DOUBLEHEADER

HOME: 4 p.m., Tuesday, April 26, doubleheader with Otter Tail Central

HOME: 4:30 p.m., Thursday, April 28, against Swanville

AWAY: 4:30 p.m., Friday, April 29, @ Parkers Prairie

AWAY: 4 p.m., Tuesday, May 3, doubleheader @ New York Mills

AWAY: 4:30 p.m., Friday, May 6 @ Perham

HOME: 4:30 p.m., Monday, May 9, against Park Rapids

HOME: 4 p.m., Tuesday, May 10, doubleheader with Bertha-Hewitt Verndale

HOME: 4:30 p.m., Thursday, May 12 against Staples-Motley

Michael Johnson is the news editor for Agweek. He lives in rural Deer Creek, Minn., where he is starting to homestead with his two children and wife.
You can reach Michael at or 218-640-2312.
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