GOING TO STATE!!

June 2

And so it came to pass, our Cardinals traveled to Detroit Lakes the previous day and defeated the section top-seed Lakers 2 – 1 in the final game of the winner’s bracket.  As in semi-final game, first baseman Ellie Ronning hit a two-run homer in the first inning – and pitcher Caley Haugen, with the help of great defense, made it stand up.  The Cardinals were then host to the section championship games as the remaining undefeated team in the double elimination tournament.  Thief River Falls defeated Detroit Lakes in the play-in game prior to this, the immediate follow-on game . . .

softball

[This team started the season 1 – 5.  And now the team is going to the state tournament for the first time since 1995.  “Weakie” and I have followed the sport for many years, and we have had many good teams with lots of star players.  But if you run into that one team with an overpowering pitcher . . . and for many years that was either Brainerd or a St.Michael-Albertville.  Caley was a returning pitcher this year but as a senior had not had a lot of previous playing time.  She now has a 9 – 2 record, I believe, and does it mainly by changing speeds and throwing strikes.  She is not a strike out pitcher but relies on her defense and not walking anyone.  The defense was super the last (and only) four games we saw this year.  The left side of the infield features a hockey goalie at 3rd, Amy, and a soccer goalie at shortstop, Zieg – so they know how to play defense.  And the outfield can run down some balls.  It’s been fun to watch.]

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[Yup, another perfect day for a ball game at the Oz (AAHS) Softball Complex – sunny, warm, not a hint of a breeze.  Here I’m trying to set the camera’s windage and elevation on Rev during warm-ups.  Still, shooting through the chain link fence was strictly a hit-or-miss situation and I ended up deleting about a third of my shots.]

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[OK, ladies, let’s do this!]

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[Caley set the Prowlers down 1-2-3 in the first.  Allsion led off the bottom of the inning for us.  Yup, the fence’s cross beam was an issue from where we were sitting.]

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[Nice swing, but not a hit.]

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[The mind fails, but Zieg, as the No. 2 hitter, walked I believe to bring up Ellie.]

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[A brief pause from the game while I have a recollection.  The DeMarini bat!  I last played slowpitch softball over 20 years ago but was in my heyday when the DeMarini was introduced.  It totally changed the game, not sure if for the better.  In the wooden bat era, a slugger in slowpitch (that would not include me) would have a hard time hitting a ball over the 210-foot fence on this field.  With DeMarini and its offshoots, the 300-foot fence came into play.]

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[Base hit to left.]

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[Two runners on for Calley.]

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[And I’m already losing track, but now Amy’s up and that looks like Ellie on 2nd?]

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[And I believe that was a hit.]

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[Then Rev – things were rolling.]

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[Now Kelsea . . . ]

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[Mmmm, thought that was a little low, blue?]

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[And I think Kelsea did good, too.  The Cards got off to a start teams dream off – a 4-run first inning!]

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[Caley finished the section playoffs by allowing only one-run in the last two games.  A pitcher is going to win a lot of games doing that!]

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[Now Hayley, who as our lead striker in soccer, is someone who can really run down a lot of balls in leftfield.]

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[And back to Allison at the top of the order.]

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[Again, not quite.]

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[Zieg – she may have had the play of the day when she ranged behind 2nd base to field a grounder and threw out the runner at first.]

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[And ole automatic, Ellie with a single up the middle.]

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[Well, a-beat the drum and hold the phone . . . ]

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[The sun came out today . . . ]

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[We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field . . . ]

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[A-roundin’ third and headed for home . . . ]

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[It’s a brown-eyed handsome girl [sic] . . . ]

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[Anyone can understand the way I feel.  ~  John Fogarty (except for one word)]

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[Oh no, now Allison, our crack lead off hitter, was now 0 – 3 – I knew that would change!]

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[As any good coach would say, “Just keep doing what you’re doing.”  Of course, that’s just an assumption on my part believing most of the time they’re discussing post-game dining.]

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[Lookin’ good in the neighborhood.]

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[Back to Zieg – turned out to be one of the better photos.]

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[Hohum, now I’m 3 for 3.]

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[Like this shot, too.  Hard to get a good shot of a rightie.  It’s Amy, who not only hit well, but made all the plays at 3rd again.]

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[A-roundin’ third and headed for home . . . ]

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[Oh, I already did that.]

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[And the slide!]

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[Hayley joins in . . . ]

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[And as previously noted, it was Allison’s turn to shine with a 2-run triple to rightcenter.]

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[Let there be runs, runs, and more runs . . . ]

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[If you look really close, that’s probably Allison on 3rd.]

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[And then Ellie . . . ]

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[Who managed to finish off a pretty good day with a double, making her 4 for 4!]

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[The Prowler coach emptied his bench to give everyone a chance to play in a section championship.  Zieg played on our basketball team that lost the section final in OT to the Prowlers this year making this game extra sweet for her.]

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[Thanks, blue!  Can’t play these games without you.]

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[A premonition that I took this shot?  If we get 2 runs in the bottom of the 6th, we win by the 10-run mercy rule.]

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[So, let’s see.  We have Amy on 2nd . . . ]

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[And Kelsea at bat.]

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[And here come the winning runs!]

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[Yippee!  We win!!]

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[Celebrate . . . ]

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[Celebrate . . . ]

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[Dance to the music . . .]

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[We’ll see you at state . . . ]

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[Mankato here we come!]

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[Yowza!]

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Softball problems:  Getting hit with the ball and being able to see the stitches imprinted on your skin.  ~  Anon

Up Next:  Back to Europe

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