ST. PETERS — Maddy Brenizer wasn't sure she'd ever get another chance to put on a glove or swing a bat.
Prior to Monday, the junior infielder last played high school softball as a freshman at Duchesne. But the school was forced to drop its program due to a lack of numbers following the 2017 season.
After a full season without softball, Brenizer and a handful of her Duchesne classmates were on the football field at Lutheran St. Charles for the first day of practice as part of the co-operative softball team recently formed between the two schools.
“I'm excited to meet new people and make this fun," Brenizer said. "At our camp, we did a lot of team building and got to know each other. Basically, we have to try and build ourselves up while we build the others around us up. We want to keep everyone positive and work together.”
That spirit of cooperation is key, Lutheran St. Charles coach Jon Bernhardt said.
Bernhardt led Lutheran St. Charles to a 7-10 finish a season ago and returns under new circumstances. Bernhardt said there might not have been a team to coach this year without the St. Charles County schools joining forces.
“Both schools were in a position where, unless they did something, they weren't going to be able field a team,” Bernhardt said. “We've got girls at both schools, Duchesne and Lutheran, who love softball and want to be a part of a team. We thought it was a good idea to come together and make that happen by co-oping.”
That cohesiveness has helped the program form a new identity, as the players are now under a combined banner of the two schools.
“We developed a name — Couganeers — which is a combination (of both school's mascots),” Bernhardt said. “We really feel it's important to create one unit, one team, but yet understanding that both sides both have pride in their schools and to be able to represent that identity with that pride that they have and to be able to do that together (is special). I'm a big believer in building team.”
Junior pitcher Molly Clifft, who threw for Lutheran St. Charles last season, said she's enjoyed welcoming her new teammates.
“It's cool, because we weren't going to have a team and we're able to have one now, and we're joining with other people,” Clifft said. “We're still learning, but it's going really well.”
Infielder Macy Miller played softball at Francis Howell North before transferring to Duchesne as a junior. The senior is grateful to be getting one last chance to hit the diamond.
“I'm happy that I can end my senior year playing softball,” Miller said. “This is different because I don't really know anyone. I need to put myself out there and start talking to people. I think we need to get better (as a group) and then work to get better as a team.”
The Couganeers will open the season at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 3 at Elsberry.