Softball: Teams end the regular season strong, set sights on sections

Andover

The Huskies ended the regular season on a high note with a 4-1 win against Blaine to stop a four-game losing streak May 16.

Andover (7-10) scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to highlight the win behind pitcher Lauren Hein who limited the Bengals to one run on four hits in seven innings.

Jessica Burlingame had two hits to lead the offense as four different batters drove in runs in what was a team win.

Junior Maddie Rooney led the team with 20 hits during the regular season and Hein was one of four players with at least 16 hits. She led the team with seven doubles, stole six bases and Buffington knocked the ball around for four triples and drove in 10 runs. Five Huskies drove in double-digit runs, led by Rooney’s 13.

Coon Rapids

The Cardinals picked up its fourth win in what has been an inconsistent season in a 9-2 win against rival Andover May 14.

Coon Rapids (4-12) scored four times in the home half of the first inning to set the tone for the rest of the Northwest Suburban Conference game.

Anoka’s Dayja Rosario breaks up a double play by Coon Rapids’ Shayla Huffman during the Tornadoes 10-0 win at Coon Rapids May 10.

Anoka’s Dayja Rosario breaks up a double play by Coon Rapids’ Shayla Huffman during the Tornadoes 10-0 win at Coon Rapids May 10. Photo by Bill Jones

Whitney Greig, McKenzie Wilkins and Shayla Huffman each had two hits and drove in a run. Greig and Wilkins also scored twice and Rosie Grainger knocked in two runs.

Pitcher Sam Anderson scattered two runs, seven hits, three strikeouts and no walks across seven innings in the third game in as many days.

“We’ve struggled to play a complete game … but that game was our best showing by far this year, defensively. Consistency is hard to come by with a group that starts three juniors, two sophomores and a freshman,” first-year Cardinals coach Zach Niebaber said. “Our problem is we compound our issues by giving up an error or walk in front of a big hit.”

The week began on a positive note when the Cardinals nearly nearly knocked off defending section champion Maple Grove 13-12 in eight innings in Coon Rapids on May 12.

The Crimson scored three times in the first inning but Coon Rapids responded with five runs in the second inning. Maple Grove retook the lead with nine runs to lead 12-6 after five innings.

Crimson standout pitcher Sydney Smith gave up two hits and one unearned run in three innings before giving way to two relievers.

Coon Rapids pounced on its upset bid with multiple-hit games from five players including three hits from Huffman and Alyssa Hansen.

Hansen drove in four runs and scored once to spark the offense.

Anderson pitched four innings, issuing 10 hits, eight earned runs, six walks and three strikeouts before Kelley Besst calmed the Crimson bats in the final inning. She gave up four hits without a walk or strikeout in three innings of work.

Nienaber said the offense has picked up over the second half of the season. “Our girls have taken a better approach to the plate and the result has been more offense,” he said. “Now we are getting hits with runners on base.”

Two days earlier, Coon Rapids pounded St. Paul Academy 18-3 after losing three previous games at the Benilde-St. Margaret’s tournament in St. Louis Park, May 10.

The win halted a five-game losing skid and was the second win in 10 games.

Coon Rapids posted a 12-run second inning and finished the game with 10 hits and 11 walks. Besst scattered eight hits and two earned runs over five innings.

Megan Mensen leads the team with 19 hits, Hansen has a team-high eight RBIs and Cassie Brown has added more pop to the lineup recently, batting .294 and driving in seven runs.

Legacy Christian Academy

First year head coach Jesse Martens has Legacy positioned for a strong push in what should be a very competitive section tournament.

The Lions (9-7) opened the Section 4A tournament with a 15-5 win against MCAA foe Maranatha May 15.

Pitcher Marie McLaughlin picked up her 10th win of the season in four innings without issuing a hit. She struck out five and walked four.

McLaughlin came into sections with a brutal five games in as many days stretch.

Martens hopes she can continue that sucess deep into sections.

“Our team is playing great but Marie is the piece of the puzzle that keeps everyone together,” Martens said. “She has a ‘next level’ bat so it hasn’t mattered who we face and she worked all off-season increasing her velocity and added two pitches.”

She was equally as impressive in the batter’s box going 4-for-4 with two RBIs and scored three runs. The big offensive performance raised her season batting average to .640 and boosted her season RBIs total to 21.

The Lions pounded out 17 hits as four batters collected at least three hits.

The Lions came three outs shy of a monumental upset, leading perennial state powerhouse New Life Academy 2-1 going into the top of the seventh inning. New Life rallied for three runs in the MCAA Conference contest May 7.

McLaughlin nearly did it all on the rubber and at the plate. She went 3-for-3 with a sixth-inning double. Inside the pitching circle she gave up one earned run on eight hits and was in line for the win until back to back hits scored the decisive run.

Legacy finished the regular season fourth in the MCAA Conference with a 6-3 record.

The team has six players with at least 10 hits including 19 from Lexi Kane, 17 from Erin Bredemus and 16 from Brielle Pierson. Kane has a team-high 10 walks and is third in RBIs with 11.

“This is the first season where we can legitimately feel we can play with anyone,” Martens said. sSx players are in different positions in the field this spring. “We have a small team but there is virtually no weakness.”

Legacy received the No. 5 seed in the Section 4A tournament and Marten doesn’t feel like the team is an underdog. “We feel like we are the team to beat,” he said. “That’s the attitude this group of girls have this year and it is fun to watch.”

PACT Charter School

Going from winless last spring to a 6-6 regular season is quite the turnaround for first-year coach Matt Zimmerman.

The Panthers lost to Southwest Christian in the Section 4A opener 13-5, May 15.

Sophomore catcher Annelise Parten and ninth grade secondbaseman Aislinn Parten have become a stabilizing presence this spring.

The sisters each pounded out a team-high 19 hits and scored 14 runs each. The pair combined for 10 doubles and Aislinn had the team’s lone triple. Annelise drove in a team-high 9 RBIs.

Alyssa Shultz had the only home run of the season.

Senior pitcher Abby Rickenbach posted a 6.96 ERA with a 6-6 record in 65 1/3 innings. She struck out 66 and walked just 13 batters.

St. Francis

St. Francis opened a stretch of four games in four days with only its fourth loss of the season in a 5-1 loss to Mississippi 8 Conference foe St. Michael-Albertville May 14.

Knight’s pitcher Krista Slavin pitched a one-hitter while striking out three and walked two in an efficient performance. Her counterpart, Saints pitcher Aimmee Cottrell struckout nine but walked two and scattered nine hits over seven innings.

St. Francis’ Sam Jochum broke up the no-hitter and shutout with one swing of the bat scoring Amanda Marron in the fifth inning.

Saints junior Kyle Almendinger led the team going into May 15 with a .405 batting average and drove in eight runs and scored 11 runs. She only struck out three times in 37 at-bats.

Almendinger hit a grand slam in a 6-1 win at Holy Angels May 3 and was held without a hit twice in 12 games.

Blaine

Entering section play, Blaine won three times over the last 12 games including a 17-11 win against Armstrong on May 15.

Amelia Luckow, Taylor Bross and Kalli Doyle each drove in three runs in the offensive outburst. Doyle went 4-for-4 and scored twice and Malorie Stone went 3-for-4 with a walk and scored three times.

Bross, a freshman, was one of five Bengals with at least 16 hits. Stone and Doyle each had 17 hits. Bross knocked in 11 runs, hit one of the team’s five home runs.

Stone and Liv Mortenson have pitched the Bengals to a 6-11 record, with Stone striking out 35 batters compared to just seven walks in 50 innings.

Spring Lake Park

Winners of 12 straight games and a nearly perfect 18-2 regular season, Spring Lake Park enters sections with a lot of momentum and the North Suburban Conference championship.

Spring Lake Park earned the No. 3 seed in the Section 5AAA tournament behind top-seed Maple Grove and No. 2 Rogers.

The Panthers have 11 shutouts including a 11-0 win at Benilde-St. Margaret’s to close out the regular season May 14.

Maddy Iskierka, Katie Thunborg and Maddy Wallraff each had three hits and pitcher Halley Jones struck out six in a complete game shutout.

Jason Olson is at
jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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