By Brenda Erdahl Sports Editor
It might be hard to top a 26-1 season that ended in a runner-up finish at the state tournament, but that is exactly what the Maple Lake girls’ softball team intends to do, and they are just the athletes to do it.
The Irish return six of eight core players from that almost-perfect team and they are eager for another shot at a state title.
“We all are invested in our motivation to get it done this year,” Head Coach Tim Knudsen said.
Last year the Irish fell to defending 2A champions, Zumbrota- Mazeppa in the championship game and coaches made the prediction that they would be back. So far, the team appears to be equipped to make that a possibility.
Returning at first base is senior Amber Klug; at shortstop is senior Linsey Rachel; sophomore Oliva Paumen returns to third base; at center field is senior Mollie Schieber; at right field is sophomore Katie Goelz and pitching again for the Irish is senior Calli Maki. Together this formidable crew powered its way to 13 shutouts last year and broke the school record for homeruns in a season, totaling 32 before the state tournament.
The Irish will feel the loss of catcher Morgan Scheiber and left fielder Ellie Haney who graduated last spring, but hope to fill their shoes with some up-and-coming talent.
Among the underclassmen coaches expect to have an impact on this year’s season are sophomores Megan Carlson (catcher), Lucy Greenhagen (DH), Peyton Tongen (pitcher/DH) and Ellie Jude (outfield). Freshmen include Dani Geyen (pitcher/first base/outfield), Lexy Bakeberg (outfield/infield) and Megan Lind (outfield). Eighth graders include Molly Erickson (catcher/outfield/infield), Taylor Hess (pitcher/outfield) and Bryn Elsenpeter (infield).
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