Algona Softball Brings Mix of Youth and Experience Into 2024

by Tyler Lance
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The 2024 high school softball season has arrived, as the Algona Bulldogs begin their campaign on May 20th with a road trip to Pocahontas Area.

The 2023 edition of the Bulldogs finished with a record of 9-14 and placed 5th in the North Central Conference. The preparation for this season started to really pick up in January according to Head Coach Todd VanOtterloo.

Returning for Algona is junior pitcher Ryan Haynes, who has been starting games regularly for Algona since her 8th grade season. Haynes posted the lowest ERA of her career last season with a mark of 3.85, partly due to walking the least batters of her career.

Haynes says she never gets too far away from a throwing program throughout the year, and things have really ramped up now that the season has arrived.

In her career, Haynes has thrown over 360 innings for Algona, as the repetition has helped her build confidence.

VanOtterloo has also seen growth in confidence for Haynes. In addition to Haynes, VanOtterloo expects to get some good innings from sophomore Allison Trunkhill, with the possibility to see freshmen Taylor VanOtterloo and Elizabeth Brinkley in the pitching circle as well.

Haynes’ battery mate is her sister, freshman Reagan Haynes, who already has a season of being the starting catcher under her belt. Reagan Haynes was a third team all-state selection last season for class 3A, batting .397 with 26 runs driven in, while striking out only 5 times in 73 at bats. The younger Haynes is also adept at fielding her position, throwing out 8 of 16 potential base stealers in 2023.

VanOtterloo says Reagan Haynes has much more experience than other players her age usually do.

Ryan Haynes feels the chemistry between the Bulldog batterymates is top-notch.

Outside of the Haynes sisters, Algona did graduate a lot of the middle of their batting order, with last year’s regular 2, 3, 4, and 7 hitters in the batting order now graduated.

Senior Ashley Cantu says they will miss last year’s seniors, but the current group of Bulldogs has been working hard to make it a seamless transition to 2024.

VanOtterloo anticipates the team playing some small-ball this season.

Junior Kaitlyn Burns batted .328 for the Bulldogs last season, and will be a key returner in the batting order. Ryan Haynes batted .288 last year, and will be a key batter in addition to serving as the main pitcher for Algona.

With only two seniors on the roster with Ashley Cantu and Paige Vileta, VanOtterloo expects some young Bulldogs to fill key roles.

Getting to the top of the North Central Conference won’t be an easy task, as defending NCC champion and class 1A state quarterfinalist St. Edmond brings back a substantial portion of last year’s team, while several other schools bring back pitchers from last season. VanOtterloo feels the Bulldogs have the ability to put themselves in the mix.

Algona begins the season with three non-conference road games, facing Pocahontas Area on May 20th, Newman Catholic on May 21st, and Bishop Garrigan on May 22nd. The first NCC game for the Bulldogs will be at Webster City on May 24th. Algona’s first five games of the season are on the road before their home opener on May 30th.

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