Hoffmann: a stabilizing force as DHS’ catcher
Midway through her seventh-grade season, Dickinson senior Mackee Hoffmann was called up to be the varsity starting catcher.
Fast forward six years later and the Midgets are entering the West Region Tournament with a 24-4 record, the best regular season in school history.
“As the years have gone on, we’ve gotten better and better as a team,” Hoffmann said. “It’s still fun. Losing isn’t really that fun, but the bus rides and everything else was fun.”
The No. 2-seeded Midgets begin the West Region Tournament against No. 7 seed Turtle Mountain at noon today in Jamestown.
Though the Midgets have only four losses this season, they have all come against top-seed Minot Ryan, and know anything can happen in tournament time.
“We’ve been challenged in some real close games,” Dickinson head coach Bill Butterfield said. “Something that’s neat about this team and that we’ve been in the pressure games. We are as ready as we’ve ever been going into the WDA.”
Aside from half of her seventh-grade season and her entire sophomore year, Hoffmann has been the Midgets’ starting catcher.
Hoffmann suffered a torn ACL during the Dickinson High girls basketball season, which forced her to sit out for softball. Hoffmann was an all-star catcher after her freshman season in which she had a .400 batting average. Despite not playing, Hoffmann learned more by observing and watching.
“There’s a lot of things that you notice about yourself individually and about your team,” she said. “It taught me a lot about cheering for my teammates and being a positive influence. When I wasn’t playing, it wasn’t about me at all. It’s taught me a lot more about selflessness.”
The Midgets’ starting pitchers of senior Haley Butterfield and sophomore Madison Jahner have benefitted most from having Hoffmann at the backstop. The starters have a combined earned run average of less than two.
Haley Butterfield and Jahner said their success is due in large part to Hoffmann.
“It’s always been cool and special that I’ve always had her by my side, not only as my catcher, but as one of my best friends,” Haley Butterfield said. “Being good friends helps on the field, because it’s not weird when you go into the pitching circle. She won’t really get on me, but she’ll tell me a joke and make me laugh. She knows as well as I do, because we have the same mindset.”
Jahner added: “I feel that she can really help me in the ways that I lack when I’m pitching. She’s just so experienced behind the plate and she’s been doing it for a long time. She definitely knows what’s going on. She’s really good at calming me down in stressful situations.”
Hoffmann hasn’t been a slouch at the plate either. The senior has a team-high .527 batting average with 10 doubles, three home runs, two triples and 29 RBI.
As a team, the Midgets are hitting .354 with 58 doubles, 17 triples, five home runs,180 RBI and a .462 on base percentage. Bill Butterfield said any player in the lineup has the ability to have a breakout game.
“From top to bottom, this is the best lineup that we’ve ever had,” he said. “One through nine, we are solid. We don’t want to get too high or too low, we want to keep that even-keel.”
Once the Midgets’ season is over, it won’t mark the final time Hoffmann plays softball. She will play at Concordia College (Minn.) in the fall.
However, Hoffmann isn’t look too far into the future. She’s focused on the task at hand — the West Region Tournament.
“It’s nice to know that isn’t not going to be over after this season, but I’m not going to look past our season at all,” Hoffmann said. “I’m still ready to go out and do our thing at WDA.”