Sports Roundup: Mariner softball wants stateMariner softball wants state, Two Harbors softball team preview
By: Matt Suoja and Steve Gow, Lake County News Chronicle
Silver Bay has won three out of the last four section 7A softball titles for a trip to Mankato and the state tournament and they would like nothing more than to do it again – they finished last season with a 20-8 record getting fourth place at state.
“Nothing changes for us,” said head coach Mike Guzzo. “Our goal is to have fun and go to the state tournament.”
The Mariners return eight players off of last season’s roster including their entire pitching staff.
Kirstin Sandstrom, the team’s only senior, returns as the main hurler from the mound and will play shortstop when not pitching. Then it will be either junior Nikki Babbitt or sophomore Taylor Guzzo taking the ball. They will also see action in the middle of the infield and Guzzo will do some catching. Sophomore Katie Smedstad takes over the main catching chores from long-time backstop Biz Huss. Sophomore Marina Carter moves in from the outfield to take over first base and junior Jessalyn Rowlee and freshman Rebecca Dilley will see action at third base.
Sophomore Shay Viola will man center field, sophomore Brittany Duresky will take over left and right is still up for grabs.
Among those who will not be returning this season due to graduation include third baseman Katherine Mich-
alski, catcher Huss, first baseman Alexi Warnecke and outfielder Kyla Thorne.
The top teams to challenge the Mariners from the south half of the section are Floodwood with ace pitcher Molly Johnsen and Carlton. The top teams in the north half are Cherry, last season’s runner-up, who returns everybody, Nashwauk-Keewatin and Mesabi East.
“We have a really tough section,” Guzzo said. “We’re going to have to play great defense … pitching and defense.” He also mentioned timely hitting as a key to the Mariners success.
Last season the Agates softball team made history winning its first playoff game ever in upset fashion over Aitkin – they fell to Virginia in the second round.
“This was a good season for us with a great team of young athletes,” said head coach Julie Benson after last season. “The softball program’s future looks bright.”
Now a new season waits with the leadership of some seasoned veterans.
“[We are] returning eight players with varsity experience and strong leadership from our captains,” Benson said.
Among those returning include captains senior first baseman Abby Ray and juniors left fielder Marissa Engelson and third baseman Cammie Triggs. Others returning include junior second baseman and shortstop Katelyn Adams and sophomores pitcher Madison Olson, catcher Sasha Fjeran, center fielder Kate Morsette and pitcher and second baseman Courtney Kimball.
They will try and make up for the losses of players like shortstop Kasey Cable, third baseman Sara McDannold, pitcher Brianna Engelson and first baseman Kayla Jones. They were all lost to graduation.
“I want to be competitive in the Polar League and to end the season with [a record] over .500,” Benson said.
Last year the team finished with a 2-6 record in the Polar League and 5-12 overall.