Sydney Robson and coach Bill Greskiw led the Toppers softball team to a perfect record in the Metro Classic Conference last year. With both gone, can the Toppers maintain their success?

Kirst, Robers take over with goal of preserving winning tradition

By Andrew Horschak

Correspondent

“Tradition does not graduate. Tradition does not retire.”

That was the message to the Catholic Central softball team when practice got underway earlier this month.

After finishing 20-5 last season and falling short to Oakfield, 5-4, in a WIAA Division 5 sectional semifinal, the Hilltoppers will have a noticeably different look in 2019.

Not only do they have to replace three-time Metro Classic Conference Player of the Year Sydney Robson, but Steve Kirst and Carol Robers will be sharing the coaching duties after longtime coach Bill Greskiw stepped down at the end of last season.

Kirst, the head coach at Waterford in 2016 and 2017, coached in the Muskego program last season.

Robers, no stranger to Catholic Central softball, was an assistant for 17 years under Greskiw.

“We’re going to be extremely young,” Kirst said. “We only have one senior and 10 underclassmen. It’s going to be pretty much a rebuilding year, but I still think we’ll be competitive.

“I think the fundamentals are still there. The tradition is still there. As we told our girls, ‘Tradition does not graduate. Tradition does not retire.’ We’re moving forward.”

The Hilltoppers are slated to open their season with a non-conference game against East Troy on Monday, April 1 at Congress St. Park.

In his 23 seasons guiding the Hilltoppers, Greskiw compiled a record of 354-153, including an eye-popping 227-33 in conference play. His teams won two state titles and 17 conference titles, including an undefeated Metro Classic crown a year ago.

Greskiw offered his services as a mentor with the Catholic Central players.

“Bill is a great guy and he’s always welcome,” Kirst said. “He just has a wealth of knowledge. You’d be foolish to tell Bill not to show up anymore.”

With the graduation of Robson, junior Christina Paleka is expected to handle a bulk of the pitching duties. A two-time first-team All-Metro Classic performer, Paleka played shortstop last year and batted .513 with 17 extra-base hits and 44 runs scored from the leadoff spot.

“She’s definitely going to be our workhorse,” Kirst said of Paleka, who went 3-1 with a 0.71 ERA in 40 innings last season. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a player work as hard as she does in the off-season. Her work ethic is stellar. She certainly will come into the season prepared.”

Junior first baseman Katie Goethal, senior utility player Erin Schwenn and sophomore shortstop Laine Dirksmeyer also return after earning All-Metro Classic honors.

Junior Izzy Phillips, last year’s starting catcher, has not been cleared to return to practice after suffering a back injury last year. Sophomore Morgan Dietzel, another returning player, is one of four players who can potentially see action behind the plate.

Kirst tabbed freshmen Kelsee Weis (infield or catcher) and Natalie Labicki (outfield or designated player) as the team’s top newcomers.

“We haven’t backed off on our schedule this year at all,” Kirst said. “We want to continue to go up against tougher competition.”

To read the entire story see the March 28 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.

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