The Verona Area High School softball team will lean on a trio of power hitting veterans and a blend of talented newcomers as the Wildcats look to repeat as Big Eight Conference champions this spring.
It’s been about two years since the 2019 Verona team went 22-5 and lost to Sun Prairie 10-3 in a WIAA Division 1 sectional championship. The Wildcats had beaten the Cardinals twice during the regular season, winning the conference crown, but fell short in a trip to state.
Verona has a trio of starters returning from that team — Alyssa Bostley at first base, Katie Pederson at catcher and Sydney Toman at third base. Bostley earned first-team Big Eight All-Conference two years ago, as a sophomore, when she started showcasing her talent as a hitter, leading the team in RBIs (39), home runs (3), triples (5) and was second in hits (46) and slugging percentage (.777).
Pederson and Toman both received second-team all-conference honors in 2019. Even though there will be many new faces in the infield and outfield, the goal remains the same for the Wildcats.
“We expect to compete for a conference championship and to play long into the postseason,” said Todd Anderson, in his 20th year as a coach (13th in Verona), with 280 career wins.
Anderson has guided the Wildcats to three state tournament appearances and nine regional titles, en route to compiling 212 wins at Verona.
Bostley earned a Wisconsin Softball Coaches Association All-State honorable mention in 2019 and she returns as an infielder with some experience pitching. She was recruited by Crieghton as a pitcher to join the Big East Conference. She received little starting experience as a sophomore in 2019, going 1-2 in 29 innings backing up all-state pitcher Meghan Anderson, who set VAHS school records for wins (21) and strikeouts (218).
The Wildcats will lean on Bostley and sophomore Hilary Blomberg at pitcher this season. Blomberg and her sophomore sister are sisters part of triplets. Blomberg has worked to develop her pitching with a pitching coach in the Oshkosh-area and also plays shortstop and catcher. Her sister, Addie Blomberg plays second base, catcher and can play in the outfield.
“We believe our pitchers can keep us in any game and that we can score runs with the long ball, the singles game and the short game,” Anderson said.
Anderson said Hilary Blomberg is a power hitter who also is a strong defensive player.
Versatility is a key for the Wildcats this season. There are five players on the roster who can step in at catcher. That will be critical early on as Pederson works her way back from a basketball injury.
Another sophomore newcomer who will contribute is Ellie Osting, who also plays hockey. Osting can play at catcher, first base, and third base.
Anderson said Osting brings her hockey skill set to blocking the ball behind the plate or at the hot corner.
Junior Odalys Rivera is a speedster who will play the outfield and second base.
Anderson said Rivera has exceptional speed, is a strong hitter who brings experience to the outfield. The Wildcats will be breaking in three new starters in the outfield.
“Some may look at our youth this year and be surprised by the Blombergs, Osting, Jana Lawrence and Rivera; the sophomore and junior-level offensive strength,” he said.
Besides Verona, Anderson said Sun Prairie and Middleton and Beloit Memorial will be contenders for a conference title this spring.
“Our traditional rival, Sun Prairie, is well-coached and always battles and challenges us, even when they have been in “rebuilding years,” he said.
Anderson said behind ace pitcher Ellie Buza, Middleton also will be vying for a conference championship.