MANKATO — The final chapter of the McCargar Era unfolds this spring as Mankato Loyola senior Maddie McCargar plays her final season with the softball team.
Maddie is the last of three sisters to come through the program and each has been a significant contributor. Loyola head coach Jessica Kirschner is not looking forward to life after the McCargars — Emily, Ellen and Maddie.
“They were all great team players,” Kirschner said. “Maddie happens to be the fastest of the three. I don’t even want to think about her leaving. If it’s up to me she won’t ever graduate.”
Maddie McCargar is also trying not to think about the end.
“It was sad after my final volleyball season and sad again after my final hockey season,” she said. “I’m just avoiding thinking about it because this is my very last sport.”
McCargar’s organized athletic career ends with this season’s final out. She has decided to attend the University of Minnesota in the fall and will not go out for any sports.
She plans to major in nutritional science and dietetics and then go on to pastry school. Her ultimate goal is to become a chef.
Before all that, however, she intends to give everything she has to the Loyola softball program. Maddie is not only an excellent player in the physical sense, she also brings a lot of intangibles to the Crusaders.
“She’s just a natural leader,” Kirschner said. “The assistant coach and I sometimes joke that we could bring a couple of lawn chairs to practice and just let Maddie run the show.
“She gets on people when they need it but she offers praise when they do well, too. She’s going to be a big part of any success we have this year.”
McCargar led Loyola with a .464 batting average last season. She was also first in hits (32), tied for first in doubles (9) and second in RBIs (24) while supplying solid defense in right field.
Loyola is coming off an excellent year in which it went undefeated through the regular season (18-0) before losing twice to New Ulm Cathedral in the playoffs. Everyone, with the exception of now graduated catcher Bobbie Sellner, is back from 2012.
Sellner will be a big loss as she led the Crusaders in home runs (4) and RBIs (33) a year ago. The top two candidates to replace her are senior Sam Larsen and ninth-grader MaKenna Elert. Neither has caught at the varsity level before but both worked hard during the offseason to get up to speed.
Larsen batted .328 a year ago and should see significant playing time whether she’s behind the plate or somewhere else. Among the other top returning position players are juniors Jordyn Strachan (.387), Jordyn Theuninck (.387) and Aunikah Bastian (.366).
As she did a year ago, Kirschner plans to mix and match three pitchers throughout the season. They are Strachan (8-1, 481⁄3 innings, 3.47 ERA), junior Katie Holman (9-1, 561⁄3 innings, 1.74 ERA) and senior Olivia Zwaschka (4-0, 301⁄3 innings, 0.96 ERA).
“We expect to have a good season,” Kirschner said. “The players are confident. We want to take that next step and get back to the state tournament.”