The Bartlett softball team this season will be without one of its top players from the Hawks' 32-9 Class 4A state runner-up team of 2012.
Senior catcher Kaylyn Zierke, who is signed with Division I Temple, had shoulder surgery March 6 to repair a tear in her labrum. Her rehab time will be roughly six months.
"It was a hard decision but I had to be ready for college," Zierke said. "My coach (at Temple) wanted me to get it done."
And as difficult as it may have been for Bartlett coach Jim Wolfsmith to agree with that, he did and does.
"It's tough being her senior year," he said. "We have new pitchers who would have had a comfort zone with a D-I catcher behind the plate and we'll miss that aspect. And, she was out best hitter. But I think it was the right decision for her even though it affects our season. It will be better for her college career."
An all-area standout for the last two years, Zierke hit .369 with 11 doubles and 26 RBI for the Hawks last year, as well as being a rock behind the plate as Bartlett went on its run to the state title game.
"I just have to be (the Hawks') supporter now," Zierke said. "I'm still there and I'll be there when I can with rehab. That has to be the first option now and softball second and it's never been that way for me. It's hard enough right now not being on the field with them."
Wolfsmith will turn over the catching duties to junior Dana Paul, who played outfield on the varsity last season.
"I think she's going to have a great year," said Wolfsmith of Paul. "It's a year in advance of stepping into that starting role but she's got Ball State and other schools looking at her, so I'm blessed to go from a D-I catcher to another potential D-I catcher."
Zierke has complete confidence in Paul.
"Dana's a good catcher and I trust her and believe in her," Zierke said.