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The 'Kaukauna Way': Reigning softball champs set up for sustained success

The 'Kaukauna Way': Reigning softball champs set up for sustained success
Posted at 5:15 PM, Apr 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-01 18:15:44-04

KAUKAUNA — The Kaukauna girls softball team took down Sun Prairie 1-0 last year to win the 2021 state championship and expectations are high once again this year, as the team is returning many players who are now seniors.

The reason behind their success is the girls buy into head coach Tim Roehrig's program at an early age.

“It was a pretty magical season,” said Kaukauna senior pitcher Skyler Calmes. “We worked really hard for that season. We were so hungry coming off the canceled COVID year. I feel like it was such a triumphant win for us because we had been working for so long.”

Head coach Tim Roehrig establishes a relationship with his players when they’re as young as five and six.

“He knows our personalities and he knows how we play and I just feel like it's such a tight bond that we can do anything together,” Calmes said.

“A lot of the drills that we run at the varsity level, we start them with when they are five or six years old,” said Roehrig who is entering his 24 season coaching the Galloping Ghosts. “By the time they get here, they’ve kind of perfected those drills and by the time we get to them, they’re ready to go.”

It’s not just instilling the fundamentals, but also confidence at an early age.

“I told them when they were five and six, we’ll play anybody, anywhere, anytime,”Roehrig said. “It doesn’t matter who they have, we’re going to play. We’ve always lived by that, we’ve never feared anybody from that perspective.”

One thing Roehrig told the girls when they were young, is that together they’d win a state championship. 

“It was one of those promises that I guess I made to them when they started with me when they were five or six years old that we are going to win a state title and we did it,” he said.

Heading into this season, the Galloping Ghosts have four pitchers they can rely on, leading the way is senior Skyler Calmes.

“Skyler of course pitching us in the state championship game last year was big,” said the head coach. “Pitching a 1-0 shutout was even bigger. We have a really quality group of kids and our pitching staff is deep and I think they’re ready to go.”

Despite winning the 2021 title and having many players committed to play at the college level, the players know nothing is given to them in 2022.

“We just have to keep knowing that anything can happen,” said four-year starter and senior left fielder Ava Van Asten. “Just because we were state champs last year, doesn’t mean we don’t have to work for it this year.”

No matter what happens this season, back to back titles or not, Roehrig just wants his players to love the game as much as when they first picked up a glove.

“When they came out there with their little pink gloves and their pink bats, now they’re of course not using those, but they love the game as much as they did and I think that’s key,” said Roehrig.