Spring Sports Season

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And so it came to pass, after winterless winter tumbled into erratic spring an old man’s fancy, once again, turned to . . . travel?  Hence, I covered very little of the Alexandria Area High School (AAHS) spring sports scene and am in danger of losing my “press pass.”  In fact, this is it, from most recent to waaaay back in mid-April:  1) the softball team’s first section game (missed the whole regular season); 2) the conference track championship meet (well, a little);  3) the first (or 2nd?) baseball game of the season (well, a little).

May 26

[A day of reflection, as we had (as I recall?) our first reunion luncheon since the big 50th last fall. I picked up Brad, old classmate buddy recently moved to Alex, at Bethany Manor. We had fun with a “usual” group of about 10 at Angelina’s.  Then later that afternoon our Cards hosted Little Falls in the first round of the softball sections.  Brad and I sat in sunburn sunny, 77-degree weather as our Cards won 10 – 0 by mercy rule in the 5th inning. The new field has no photo access, so all shots are through the field-surrounding chain link fence.]

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[When we arrived there were games being played on all three fields.  I thought we were late?  But AAHS was hosting section games for other neighboring classes.  On “our” field, the Thunder and Patriots were having at it.  I had no idea who they were.  Later it dawned on me – smaller classes often consist of consolidated schools and it’s impossible to put all the town names, hyphenated, on uniforms.  It was Long Prairie, et al, v. Pequot Lakes, et al, and I overheard a Pequot fan say these were the best softball field he had ever seen.  Another guy said, “Well, they paid $73 million for it!”  So I said, “And I was happy to do so!”  They got a chuckle out of that.  Anyway, as often happens, our game was 45 minutes late getting started.]

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[Pre-game meeting to decide post-game dining . . . ]

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[Coach Randy Albers and his captains.]

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[Assistant Coach Mitch Loch checks his investment portfolio.]

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[The bleacher bums?]

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[I was using the telephoto lens in an effort to thwart the fence, but with our seating, first row behind home plate, I didn’t have enough wide angle to get the entire team in one shot.]

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[McKenzie Revering (14) received the warm-up tosses of winning pitcher Caley Haugen (16).]

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[Batting lead-off for the Cardinals, 2nd baseman, Allison O’Kane (3) (also a hockey player).]

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[Batting 2nd, shortstop, Emma Ziegler (4) (she plays every sport!).]

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[Batting 3rd, Ellie Ronning (12), first baseman (also plays tennis), our home run and RBI leader (as I recall).]

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[Batting clean-up, another hockey player, centerfielder, Calley Richardson (2).  You may have noticed, all underclassmen so far.]

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[A Cardinal on 2nd tries to bet back to the base before I can get the shot!]

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[“Little Rev” on deck.  After next season, she’ll be moving on to play hockey at UMD.]

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[Now without numbers I’m going to have problems – looks like Calley on 3rd.]

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[Looks like Zieg – she’s a switch-hitter befitting her status as an all-around “jock” (meant as a total compliment!).  If she’s batting leftie, she’s likely bunting for a hit.]

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[The Cards finally broke through in the bottom of the 3rd as Ellie comes up again.]

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[The wind was blowing in from rightfield, so it wasn’t likely there’d be any “taters” on this day – and there weren’t.]

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[As you see, directly behind home plate is not a good angle!  But the earlier game had limited our seating options.]

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[3rd baseman (and our longtime hockey goalie), Amy Jost (5).  She had a hit and made some nice plays at 3rd.  Sorry I did’t get any photos of Hayley Burns (13), our soccer star leftfielder who had 3 hits in the game.]

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[A big leftie swing – we have several, so which one?]

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[Zieg rounding 3rd and heading for home.  I knew we had a pretty good hitting team – what I found most impressive was our overall team speed.]

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[Calley and Ellie have provided a pretty formidable 1-2 punch from the 3-4 slots.]

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[And here comes the walk-off run that ended the game.  We had runners on 2nd and 3rd, and noted that a single would score both runners and give us a 10 – 0 win.  As I recall, this is Kelsea Navratil (1), rightfielder, scoring on a single by Allison.]

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[Yay, we win!!]

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[Oh, that may be Haley behind Rev.]

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[Up next, Sauk Rapids-Rice, the No. 3 seed.]

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May 24

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[The previous day’s forecast had been stormy all day – it was actually sunny and warm. On this day the forecast called for 85 and sunny – I left after four events because the field and stands were cleared because of lightning in the area!  I could have stayed but skies still looked ominous.  The meet was subsequently completed.   I saw the girls’ team finish 3rd in the 4 x 800, the boys were 6th (I believe); and we got 2nd (Syri Wlliams) & 3rd (Kaye Pascha) in the 100 meter hurdles. The girls later placed 1-2-3 in the 100 meter dash – we got speed! The Hasz sisters did a 1 & 2 in both the 1,600 and 3,200. The girls won big overall, the boys finished 3rd.]

The entire results can be found here:  http://www.fastfinishresults.com/

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[The first race – the girls’ 4 x 800 . . . ]

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[Looks like Morgan Melrose on our lead-off leg . . . ]

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[And I believe this is Bethany Miller on the anchor leg.  We finished 3rd with Kylie Larson and Whitney Olson running the middle legs.]

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[Out of the blocks for the girls’ 100-meter hurdles.]

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[Syri and Kaye on the far right.  We host the section meet in a couple weeks.]

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April 14

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[The set up:  It was 80 degrees, strong winds, high early spring sky, and they’re just high school kids.  Alex was hosting Brainerd – our 2nd game of the year, maybe their 1st.]

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[Sorry, this was so long ago I can’t remember who was pitching.  Things didn’t start well for us as their lead-off hitter singled and their 3rd-place hitter launched one into the lake beyond the centerfield wall.  It was a portent of things to come.]

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[3rd baseman, Connot Hammerback (4), spun out of the way of the pitch.  Not a good day for the batteries – wild pitches, passed balls, pitches thrown behind the hitters . . . ]

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[Brayden Amundson (7), centerfield]

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[Noah Hittle (22) took a couple inside then rifled a single to left.]

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[Henry Wirtjes (16) has a swing at it . . . ]

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[Then Sam Helgeson (2) has several . . . ]

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[And now the storyline.  This was the most bizarre baseball game I can ever recall.  With the wind and the sky, high flies and infield pop-ups were uncatchable.  Both teams hit hard ground balls that as they approached a fielder would hit something and sproing 20-feet into the air for clean outfield hits.  Clouds of dust would roil across the infield with every gust of wind.  When infielders could field a ball, it was 50-50 whether the throw would be catchable by the first baseman.   Pitcher pick-off throws often ended up in rightfield.  It was not a game for the faint of heart.]

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[We changed our battery at the top of the 3rd.  Brainerd’s starter, Chris Peterson, was a guy I was familiar with – he’s 6’6″ and a star in both football and basketball.  He looked like he had good stuff, but while I was there all the pitchers were getting lit up like a WalMart Christmas tree.]

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[This is when I left.  It had taken an hour and a half to play 2 1/2 innings.  The final score, I subsequently learned, was 18 – 17, for Brainerd – it must have ended close to midnight?  Both teams have talent – I’m sure they played much better the rest of their seasons!]

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He treats us like men. He lets us wear earrings.  ~  Torrin Polk (University of Houston football player)

Up Next:  Memorial Day weekend?

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