Photo courtesy of Mark Wilmes/Tyler Tribute Pictured above is the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton softball team. Front row (L to R): Ashley Lovre, Kya Alderson, Madison Burns, Whitney Bruns, Lily Klumper. Back row (L to R): Assistant coach Ashlynn Wabeke, Maryn Johansen, Trinity Hagen, Cora Alderson, Kiley Griesse, Ragan Mitchell, Sara Hartson and head coach Darren Baartman.

TYLER – The 2021 season will be one of new beginnings for the Russell-Tyler-Ruthton softball team. Not only because the team finally gets to take the field after the 2020 season was canceled, but it will be a new coach leading the Knights, as Darren Baartman takes over the program.

Baartman says understanding his players’ strengths and weaknesses will be important as a new coach.

“With this being my first year with the girls and them not having a season last year, I as the coach will need to make sure I know their strengths to put them in the best possible situation to be successful and at the same time understand their weaknesses and work to improve in those areas,” he said.

The team will have 11 players returning from the 2019 roster, including seniors Cora Alderson, Kiley Griesse, Trinity Hagan, Maryn Johansen and Ashley Lovre.

“Many of the girls returning have played a lot of softball at the varsity level so I would say our experience would be one of our main strengths,” Baartman said.

Early in practice, Baartman is setting the foundation for his team by working on some of the basics.

“So far in practice we have really focused on the fundamentals of the game and understanding situations so that we can make the right play,” he said. “We want to make sure that we are solid in the areas of pitching and defense. I want our pitcher to throw strikes and our defense to make the plays so we do not give teams extra outs and extra opportunities to score.”

Coming into this season after last year’s schedule was wiped out, Baartman hopes his team will enjoy the process and appreciate each moment of the season.

“We are looking forward to just being out on the field and playing the great game of fastpitch softball,” he said. “Treat each day as an opportunity to get better and never take anything for granted because as we know nothing is guaranteed. Be a better player, teammate, and person than you were yesterday. Lastly, embrace the moment and have fun.”


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