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Small but talented

The Morris softball team is supposed to open its season on Thursday at Dwight.
The Morris softball team is supposed to open its season on Thursday at Dwight.

Taking a look at the Morris softball team this spring, it's pretty easy to come to that conclusion.

Small in that the team currently only has 10 varsity players on the team, but talented in that eight of those 10 are players who return with a lot of varsity experience.
"It's a small group, but they are all veterans except for two. Everyone else has a year experience at least," Morris coach Jen Lowery said. "Other than Taya (Torkelson) and Molly (Fruland), everyone else was a primary starter last year."
Erica Gualandi and Laney Torkelson are the only two returning seniors this year, but they are not the only standouts on the team. That's something considering the Redskins have six juniors and two sophomores on the varsity at this point.
"Really if you walked in here and you didn't know any better, you wouldn't know the ages of any of them. There's no one thinking 'I'm a senior and you are a freshman'. Everyone gets along," Lowery said. " The seniors help the freshmen out if they make a mistake. There's a lot of camaraderie on this team. There's no negative drama, which we dealt with last year. Things are completely different this year."
Of the players on the team this year, six played together this summer for Lowery where they had some success.
"I think we played in five 'A' tournaments. They took third at the last one, which was a national qualifier," Lowery said.
More importantly, helped further develop team chemistry, too.
"The fact is that we have played together, we know each other and we are more comfortable with each other. We have a good feel of what our strengths are, that and our weaknesses," Gualandi said. "I think we are a tight knit group of girls. Though we are a small group, it means that we get more playing time and we know where the girls should be and the positions that each of them play well."
Gualandi, Laney Torkelson, Maddy Feeney and Leah Lines are the captains this year.
"I'm really excited to see how the team does this year," Feeney said. "I think we can achieve a lot this year. If we keep trying and working our hardest. Yeah, we only have 10 girls, but I think we have a lot of ability. There is talent on this team."
"I think we have a bunch of raw talent that we can put together and make something great out of it," Laney Torkelson said.
"I think we have all different talents," Lines said. "Each player brings something to the team. We're trying to use that to our benefit this year."
What most bring to the team, according to Feeney, is solid ability.
"I think the team has a lot of athleticism, which will help out a lot," she said. "We have good speed and can hit, so it should be a good year." 
Lines is just a sophomore and may just be the first of her kind in Morris history.
"I think it's really cool that my team has faith in me that I can be a leader. That I can do the things I need to and lead by example," she said. "I think good leaders aren't too bossy, but they stay positive and try to get the best out of their team. I know this team has a ton of potential and that's what we have to work with this year."
Considering the average player's age, the coming years, as well.
"I think it's a bonus having younger girls up. Like Leah. She was up last year and helped us out a lot," Feeney said. "I think Taya will also be a huge help this year at third if Alex (Cook) can't catch and Lauren (Severson) is catching. Getting younger players time will help them in the future, too."
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