KAUKAUNA, Wis. - Stellar pitching has been synonymous with Kaukauna softball, thanks to their former ace Haley Hestekin.
"Haley was an unique beast," Kaukauna softball coach Tim Roehrig said.
After winning their second Division 1 state title last year, the Ghosts only return three seniors, and a new face will step in the circle for Hestekin, who is now at Wisconsin. That's sophomore pitcher Aubrey Blair.
"I just gotta focus on the game and what my place is as a pitcher and do good and help my team as well," Blair said.
"She'll be ready to go and we're going to have to play defense behind her, but Aubs has been a great pitcher for a lot of years and now it's her time to shine," Roehrig said.
Blair knows it's not about replacing the former three-time FVA player of the year. Instead, she's hoping to make her own mark.
"Obviously I want to do good," Aubrey said. "I want to impress myself as well as for the other team and be their support."
"We'll play behind her," senior infielder Taylor Kuske said. "She does her job, we'll do our job and we'll keep her going."
However, the Ghosts' pitching rotation could take another turn. After suffering a back injury last month, Blair's status for the team's opener next week is questionable. If she's unable to go, Haley Hestekin's younger sister Hannah is up next.
"I'm not nervous at all," senior Hannah Hestekin said. "I got to be confident going into it."
And that confidence has been carried throughout this 2018 group of Ghosts despite losing their top player.
"A lot of people looked up to Haley," Hestekin said. "Everyone wanted to play behind her, everyone wanted to work hard for her, so we just gotta get back in the groove of that."
And hopefully that'll translate to another stellar year on the softball diamond. Kaukauna kicks off their season next Tuesday at home against Hortonville.
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