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Photos: We’re talking practice at Superior softball – Superior Telegram
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Photos: We’re talking practice at Superior softball – Superior Telegram

Historically, the spring sports season has been challenging. The weather always makes things difficult during a team’s training and competitions. Now throw in last year’s graduates. What about replacing an old coach?

Welcome to Superior softball. Challenges at every turn. Gone is head coach Mike Sather. Gone are all-conference, all-district and all-state pitcher and first baseman Haley Zembo and Indigo Fish. And gone is Emma Raye, three-time Superior Telegram Player of the Year and Wisconsin Player of the Year.

Junior varsity coach Bobbijean Gidley has taken the reins of the program that has made two consecutive trips to the state tournament and returned from Madison last year with a second-place trophy. With a solid group of players back from last year’s team, Coach Gidley has allowed the Superior Telegram to go behind the scenes and take a ride with the Spartans this season as they face the challenges of a new season .

Our first chapter of the Spartans looks at practice, the true “spring training” of the season. Sometimes inside, sometimes outside, sometimes both on the same day, coaches have to do everything they can every day to get the most out of their players.

Coaches talk after the first practice.

March 18: 5:02 PM – Superior head softball coach Bobbijean Gidley, right, smiles as she talks with longtime assistant coach John Heinen after the first practice of the season at SHS. It was Gidley’s first practice as head coach of the Spartans. Gidley has been the JV coach for the past few seasons.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Foot rocks back on the hill.

April 3: 4:41 PM – Pitcher Ari Robillard’s foot rocks back on the mound as she works on pitches in the corner of the gym during practice.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Player slides to third place.

March 18: 4:28 PM Chunks of plastic shoot up from the turf as senior Avery Visger slides headfirst toward third base during the Spartans’ first practice of the season.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Coach blows a bubble.

April 9: 4:11 PM – Spartans assistant coach John Heinen blows a bell while watching Keira Corbett in the batting cage during practice.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Coach talks to team.

April 5: 4:06 PM – Superior head softball coach Bobbijean Gidley, left, talks to the varsity team about expectations and who to talk to about any concerns before a practice at Superior High School.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Player catches a ball.

April 15: 5:48 PM – Senior Alayna DeGraef makes a ball play during an outdoor practice.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Coach throws two balls to batter.

April 5: 4:29 PM – Superior head softball coach Bobbijean Gidley, right, throws two tennis balls to Emma Lampton and instructs Lampton which ball to hit, top or bottom, during practice in the SHS gym.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Players laugh as they build a bat tower.

April 3: 4:15 PM – Melania Luostari, left, and Mattie Schilling laugh together as they admire the tower they built with three softball bats during batting practice at the gym.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Coaches hand out uniforms.

March 22: 4:47 PM Varsity assistant John Heinen, left, points to a pair of pants as Paige R. Johnson receives her uniform from JV coach Jim Ross, center, while other JV coach Dave Sigfrids supervises.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Coach helps player pitch.

April 3: 4:56 PM – Assistant coach Amanda Kishish, left, leads freshman Halle Visger through a pitching wind-up at the end of practice in the SHS gym.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

The coach laughs as she prepares to throw a jump ball.

March 22: 4:01 PM – Head coach Bobbijean Gidley, center, laughs before throwing a “jump ball” between Halle Visger, left, and Gabbi Saari as the team plays an ultimate freestyle game with a softball and their gloves in the gym.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Hand feeds ball into throwing machine.

April 3: 4:13 PM During practice in the gym, a ball is fed into the pitching machine.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Players text during fundraiser.

April 2: 5:40 PM – From left to right, Halle Visger, Jade Bonner and Mattie Schilling people text on their phones while raising money for the softball team during the Hour-a-thon at SHS. Each Spring sports team gathered in the gym and tried to raise money for their teams from family and friends.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Coach looks through uniforms.

March 22: 4:36 PM – Head coach Bobbijean Gidley looks up as she walks through a bin before handing out uniforms towards the end of practice in the gym.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Coach talks to pitcher.

April 5: 6:02 PM – Assistant coach Amanda Kishish, left, gives some tips to pitcher Ari Robillard near the end of practice.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Coach hits infield.

April 2: 3:51 PM – Varsity assistant coach John Heinen wears his glove on one hand as he hits grounders to the infield on a makeshift field set up in the SHS gym.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Player hits ball into net.

April 3: 4:20 PM – Paige B. Johnson hits a tee into a net at the SHS gym.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Coach hits fly balls while JV coach takes notes.

March 18: 4:00 PM – Junior varsity coach Dave Sigfrids, left, takes notes as head softball coach Bobbijean Gidley hits fly balls to the outfield during the Spartans’ first practice of the season.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Player writes down goals.

March 22: 4:51 PM – At the end of practice, junior Ari Robillard writes down why she plays softball and what her goals are for the coming season.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Coach laughs while listening to players.

April 15: 5:54 PM – Head coach Bobbijean Gidley listens to her team as they talk about the first games of the season they played this past weekend.

Jed Carlson / Duluth Media Group

Jed Carlson

Jed Carlson joined Superior Telegram as a photographer in February 2001. He grew up in Willmar, Minnesota. He graduated from Ridgewater Community College in Willmar and then from Minnesota State Moorhead with a major in mass communications with an emphasis in photojournalism.