The 2021 version of the Poynette prep softball team will look much different than the last time the Pumas were on the diamond when they claimed their second straight WIAA Division 3 state title in 2019.
After losing their 2020 season to the pandemic, the Lady Pumas lost a plethora of seniors to graduation and then legendary coach Bob Tomlinson stepped down after 41 years with the program.
In his tenure, Tomlinson led Poynette to five state title, four state runner-up finishes, 26 conference titles and 17 regional crowns.
Matt Ramberg has been tabbed to take over for Tomlinson.
“We have a lot of growing as a team to do as we are an extremely young team,” Ramberg said. “Our goal as Pumas is to get better at each practice and game.”
Poynette concluded the 2019 season with a 4-0 victory over Campbellsport in the state championship game to cap off a perfect 30-0 campaign. The Pumas defeated Tomahawk 2-0 in the 2018 state title game and finished 24-1.
With nearly its entire lineup returning in 2020, the Lady Pumas were heavy favorites to win their third straight title. But thy never got the chance.
“It was very disappointing because we are the two-time Division 3 state champions and losing that season for the senior class of 2020 was heartbreaking for the Pumas,” Ramberg said.
This season, the Pumas only return one starter from the 2019 state championship team.
“Although we need to gain experience on the field, the 2021 Puma team is focused and driven to succeed,” Ramberg said.
Senior Peyton Kingsland is the lone returning starter for Poynette. She started at shortstop during her sophomore season.
Ramberg is excited about several young players, including sophomore pitchers Holly Lowenberg and Brooke Steinhorst. He is also expecting big things from senior first baseman Peyton Gest and junior second baseman Ashia Meister.
Also looking to make an impact this season for Poynette is Maysa Clemens (Sr.), Alanna Borgen (Sr.), Tia Bauernhuber (Sr.), Abby Klink (Jr.), Laken Wagner (So.), Alli Ripp (So.), Genevieve Berner (Fr.), Kaitlyn Suchomel (Fr.), Val Heth (Fr.) and Jocelynn Nehls (Fr.).
“This season will be a success if we give a 110-percent effort at practices and games and gain experience for our young athletes,” Ramberg said. “We are going to focus on our goals. We want to go out and have some fun.”
The 2021 season is starting later than normal, which will force teams to play most of their games in a short window of time. The Pumas have set up a 21-game schedule.
“The shortened season will be a challenge as we will have more games than practices and our players will have to adapt to the condensed season,” Ramberg said.
The Lady Pumas opened the season this past Tuesday against Lodi. A recap will be in next week’s Press.
Poynette will host Lakeside Lutheran tonight and then they will travel to DeForest on Friday. Both games will start at 5 p.m.