Park has become a Minnesota softball powerhouse the last five years under head coach Bob Loshek, winning three Suburban East Conference championships, three section titles and advancing to state …
Park has become a Minnesota softball powerhouse the last five years under head coach Bob Loshek, winning three Suburban East Conference championships, three section titles and advancing to state three times. Park finished second at state in 2018 and was the 2016 consolation champions.
The Wolfpack have averaged 19 wins a season the last five years, including campaigns of 24-2 in 2018 and 23-3 in 2016.
Star shortstop Madi Meduna was earning all-state honors the last time a Park team took the field in 2018, however, along with standouts such as Saren Crocker, Paige Heitkamp and Bryanna Olson.
But with one notable exception, Park is starting almost from scratch this season.
The exception is Corinna Loshek, the only senior on this year’s team and really the only remaining link to the recent glory years. Loshek, an outfielder and the head coach’s daughter, signed a letter of intent to play softball at Winona State next year. She will be the rock the Wolfpack build around this season.
“I think we just work together really work,” said Corrina Loshek. “We push each other in practice so I think we’ll outwork most teams.”
Park players and coaches are No. 1 just happy to be playing, and No, 2, very optimistic about the season.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve lost so many upper classmen and not only upper classmen but just quality kids,” said coach Loshek. “On the ball field, off the ball field, in the classroom, just great people and they’re always difficult to replace.
“At the same time we’ve had many of these quality kids that we have now at this level ready to make the team last year so we were going to be very young last year and now this year we’re just young,” Loshek added.
Corinna Loshek and Gracie Bond – the only junior on the team will lead a Wolfpack squad of mostly sophomores and freshmen that aim to reach the standards of excellence of those recent standout Park squads.
“I think that we’re all really young and a lot of us have been coaches by Tony (Young) in the past and he has really instilled a good work ethic so no matter what we’ll fight until the end,” said Bond. “And that’s what I think our biggest strength will be.”
“I think some amazing things about our team is that we’re all really a family, we’re all super close,” said sophomore catcher Emma Ambroz. “I think it’s really exciting to see even though we’re pretty young, all of our potential. I grew up playing with these girls so I’m super excited to start.”
With so many young and relatively inexperienced players on board, Loshek admitted he doesn’t yet know what to expect from this year’s team.
“It’s going to be a fun team,” said Loshek. “It’s one of those where they are literally throwing me off right now. I usually know within so many practices, so many different things that we do in practice … I could pretty much set up a lineup. … We have a combination of speed, a combination of strength and a combination of not-so speedy. But it’s just interesting because there are so many we don’t knows because of not having last year.
“It’s fun,” Loshek added. “It’s a fun group. They’re a close group. They work hard. There’ nothing better than great kids who work hard and are just happy to be around softball this year.”
Pitching for the Wolfpack will junior Gracie Bond and sophomore Skyler Croker.
“Skyler saw some time as an eighth grader, Gracie and Skyler both played in competitive off-season club programs so they both know how to pitch,” Loshek said. “And the defense knows how to play defense. We just have so many dynamics and I don’t knows yet. I think its fun and it will be a challenge but it’s a fun challenge.”
Park was 13-3 in the Suburban East Conference two years ago in 2019, finishing second in the conference in a year in which four conference teams finished in the Class 4A top 10 – No. 1 Forest Lake, No. 3 East Ridge, No. 5 Park and No. 10 Stillwater. Forest Lake, Stillwater and East Ridge each advanced to the state quarterfinals with the Ponies dropping a 3-2 decision to Maple Grove in the championship game. Park, meanwhile, was knocked out in the section playoffs by Eagan.
The conference figures to be just as tough again this season.
Park is scheduled to play at Cretin-Derham Hall