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Heralded NDSU Bison softball team looking to replace ace pitcher

FARGO -- The votes in the Division I top 25 softball polls were appreciated and the recognition as one of the top programs heading into this season were gratifying for North Dakota State Bison head coach Darren Mueller. There was just one problem...

KK Leddy, from left, Jax Sertic and Katie Thun, seen Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2016, in the North Dakota State University Bubble, Fargo, will be pitching for the Bison.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
KK Leddy, from left, Jax Sertic and Katie Thun, seen Wednesday in the North Dakota State University Bubble in Fargo, will be pitching for the Bison. (FNS Photo by Michael Vosburg)

FARGO - The votes in the Division I top 25 softball polls were appreciated and the recognition as one of the top programs heading into this season were gratifying for North Dakota State Bison head coach Darren Mueller. There was just one problem: Mueller thought his team should have been ranked to begin the season - last year.
That’s because NDSU had one of the top returning pitchers in the country in Krista Menke, and she didn’t disappoint, leading the Bison to another Summit League title and a couple of wins in the NCAA tournament. She’s graduated now.
“Right now I don’t know if we have a No. 1 pitcher,” Mueller said.
The candidates are threefold: junior Katie Thun, sophomore Jacquelyn Sertic and freshman KK Leddy. Thun pitched in one game last year, Sertic is the most experienced, going 11-5 last year and Leddy had never seen snow in her life until this winter.
She’s from Middleburg, Fla., located just outside of Jacksonville. Besides snow, she never had been in a temperature below freezing, had never played on any kind of artificial turf and had never practiced in a bubble like NDSU’s practice facility.
“I’ll call home now, and it’s like 30 degrees and I’ll say it’s warm out,” Leddy said. “And they’re like, what? It’s been good. I love the snow. Every time it snows, I freak out. Here, it’s nice to see the fall and winter, and I love it.”
The Bison fly out Wednesday morning to start a pre-Summit League schedule that could make most teams freak out. It starts this weekend with the University of Texas Classic that includes Arkansas and North Carolina. A tournament in Hawaii in March includes the host school, Baylor and Cal. The Bison also have Alabama, Stanford and Louisville on the schedule.
Mueller said a couple of mid-major teams backed out of tournaments, replaced by power-five conference teams.
“I guess we’ll jump in and see what we can do,” he said.
On the plus side, the Bison return five seniors and three of their top four hitters from a year ago led by Cheyenne Garcia (.423), Logan Moreland (.421) and Alyssa Reina (.347). They have five all-Summit League players all returning and not surprisingly, on Wednesday, were installed as the pre-season favorite to win the Summit in a poll of conference coaches.
Finding the right mix of a pitching staff is the biggest question mark.
“Our coaches keep telling all three of us they don’t want us to be Krista,” Sertic said. “They want us to be our own pitcher so we can do our own things.”

Related Topics: COLLEGE SOFTBALL
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