A-W softball maintaining high level of play under new coach

Wednesday, June 15, 2022
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Akron-Westfield Head Coach Victor Mena chats with Chloee Colt, Makenzie Hughes and Katie Johnson during a break in the action at Saturday’s tournament. Mena is in his first season as head coach of the Westerners.

MOVILLE — The Akron-Westfield softball program reached great heights under the direction of Todd Colt as their head coach. The team made 15 state tournaments from 2003 to 2020 and also won six state titles.

The Westerners are looking to continue the success they’ve had in the last two decades as they turn to a new head coach this season, Victor Mena. He said he isn’t going to try and reinvent the wheel when it comes to the team’s style of play, but will also try to put his own mark on the program.

“I know we’re going to play our brand of softball and we’re going to win a lot of ballgames doing it like that,” Mena said. “I would say there’s a few different wrinkles. Still picked up on some of the stuff he did because if something works, why change that, but I just want to add a couple more spices to it to what I want to see. I just like to put pressure on the defense and make sure we play clean defense on top of that.”

Mena said it has been an adjustment going from coaching baseball to softball as the game is a lot quicker with less room for error, but his predecessor has helped him with the nuances of the game.

“I’ve been fortunate to have Todd as my mentor,” Mena said. “He has helped me out tremendously with understanding the game of softball, understanding the whole Flex thing, that’s been crazy to deal with instead of just the DH. He’s been a great mentor.”

Akron-Westfield is off to another solid start as they are ranked No. 14 in Class 1A. Of the team’s three losses, two were by one run including a 4-3 loss to another ranked team in Remsen St. Mary’s. The other loss came Saturday by two runs.

The Westerners are a mix of youth and experience with three seniors on the roster in Megan Meinen, Chloee Colt and Taryn Wilken. Mena said overall the kids are adjusting well to playing for a new coach.

“I teach a lot of these girls anyway, so I know how they are. Overall, it’s been a good transition,” Mena said.

The Westerners are relying on two pitchers, the senior Meinen who is a lefty, and right-handed sophomore Emma Rolfes. Natalie Nielsen decided to forego her senior season to head up to South Dakota State University early to join the Jackrabbits for their basketball summer workouts.

“My senior pitcher, she’s done well, but I know she can do better. She knows she can improve and I know she can improve,” Mena said. “Rolfes, I think she’s done a phenomenal job. She needs to work on her confidence a little bit, but that’s gaining by the day.”

The A-W offense has nine batters who are hitting over .300 for the season and three, Meinen, Natalie Olson and Katie Johnson, who are currently hitting over .400.

Mena said the goal is to be peaking at the right time when the postseason comes along in just over two weeks.

“We’ve got to make sure we’re on the same page. We’re going to have a few ruffles here and there, but we’ve got to learn from those ruffles and learn from those mistakes that we make out there to make sure we come back stronger,” Mena said. “Hopefully toward the end of the year, we’re going to playing really good ball.”

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