HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Petersen tabbed as PAS head coach

Former player Bloemendaal added to coaching panel

Citing program continuity, Robert Petersen has been named head softball coach for Pipestone Area Schools — known as a statewide juggernaut in the sport.

“I think it worked out well for the program,” PAS athletic director Rick Zollner said. “He understands the game, and I think they will have a successful season.”

Petersen, in a face-to-face interview last Thursday, reported former Arrow and Southwest Minnesota State University player Shelby Bloemendaal will be part of the coaching panel. Additional staff is pending school board approval, Petersen said.

Robert Peterson has served as an assistant softball coach at Pipestone Area School for nearly two decades. (Photo by Eric Viccaro)

He replaces longtime head coach Troy Bouman, who now serves as assistant coach for his daughter, Bailey, with SMSU. Troy Bouman piloted the Arrows to 537 victories, 15 state tournament appearances and 22 straight section title game appearances.

The Minnesota State High School League has set Monday, March 11, as the first allowable date for season practices.

Petersen reported the current home opener is set for Tuesday, April 9, versus Big South Conference rival Windom Area. Robert indicated, however, the Arrows may play Russell-Tyler-Ruthton on April 2. The first road game is Saturday, April 13, at Redwood Valley.

It’s a front-loaded home schedule for the Arrows this year, who will compete with the likes of New Ulm, Jackson County Central and Windom for the conference championship.

The Arrows graduated eight players from the 2023 team that finished 21-7 and went 1-2 at the Class 2A MSHSL double-elimination  state tournament in North Mankato. Proctor eliminated the Arrows in the consolation draw.

Petersen said it’s going to take a while for several girls to “get acclimated to the varsity level.” But, PAS has reloaded plenty of times in the past.

“It’s going to take a lot of work,” Petersen stated.

In addition to serving as PAS softball coach, Petersen is currently the City of Pipestone Parks and Recreation Director. He’s gearing up for a litany of summer programs set to be offered.

Petersen graduated high school locally from Ruthton (before the merger and consolidation), where he played both football and basketball. The Vikings didn’t offer baseball, rather he played on summer travel squads.

A Class of 1992 graduate from South Dakota State University, Petersen has spent the better part of the past three decades playing national and world-level fastpitch softball — playing, perhaps, the most important position on the field, catcher.

Petersen said familiarity will surely help with the upcoming transition.

“It’s a carryover from what Troy and I have been doing,” Petersen said. “It was a chance to have a familiar face, and give them a head coach with some stability for a while. I feel like I have more left in the tank, and I still wanted to be involved.”

Petersen said the Arrows have borrowed coaching tenants from four-time Super Bowl-winning coach Chuck Noll, with the saying found on a wall inside his recreation department office.

“Do ordinary things better than anyone else,” the saying goes.

Petersen is married to wife, Teri, and both of his daughters, Peyten and Paige, were PAS players. Paige also was a top-flight performer for the University of Sioux Falls in the mid-2010s. He also has three grandchildren.

Shelby Bloemendaal was a three-time academic all-conference selection at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. (Photo provided by Southwest Minnesota State University athletic communications)

Bloemendaal was a three-time academic all-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference selection at SMSU. A pitcher, she recorded a 3.30 earned-run average in 99-2/3rds innings, with 37 strikeouts and eight walks. What’s more, she batted .268 with six doubles and 19 runs scored in 49 overall game starts.