The end of the 2016 season stuck with the Anoka softball team for quite some time. After back-to-back state tournament appearances, the Tornadoes had their season come to an end in the section championship against Forest Lake.
It was a team the Tornadoes defeated 12-0 earlier in the day. But they needed one more win to secure their spot at state and fell just short in a 1-0 loss.
The motivation hasn’t lost its steam during the long offseason. Five seniors on Anoka’s team were part of the 2014 and 2015 state tournament teams.
“They have that hunger to get back there,” head coach Toni Jesinoski said. “I think their leadership right now is outstanding. We have some younger players that were not involved in that. So they need to learn the intensity and what the seniors and coaches expect.”
Anoka returns with an experienced roster who put in time during the offseason. Whether it was club ball or doing program work in the fall, the players worked to get better.
While depth is a great friend for a coach, Jesinoski is also enjoying versatile players.
“Within our depth we have people that can play multiple positions,” Jesinoski said. “Whether it’s an outfielder or catcher or infielder, any given day someone can step in and do something. We have two outstanding senior pitchers who are doing a great job mentoring my two sophomore pitchers that right now are bouncing back and forth between JV and varsity.”
The Tornadoes opened their season April 11 with a 2-1 win against Northwest Suburban Conference opponent Centennial. Anoka was down 1-0 until scoring two runs in the sixth inning.
“We just won 2-1 right, and I said every game is going to be that way,” Jesinoski said. “In our conference, nothing is going to be easy and in our section nothing is easy. So we just take it one game at a time and make small adjustments here and there. The end goal is to make the state tournament.”