Osakis softball: Chisholm's return from ACL tear boosts Osakis
By: Eric Morken, Alexandria Echo Press
One would never know that Osakis shortstop Dani Chisholm had not hit a softball off a live pitcher in almost eight months after watching how she came out in the season opener on Tuesday.
Chisholm was forced to sit out of volleyball and basketball with a torn ACL before being cleared to play softball by doctors in early April. She put in months of rehab to get back by the season opener against Royalton. It proved to be all worth it as she helped her team to a 13-1 win over the Royals in five innings.
“It was crazy,” Chisholm said of getting back on the field. “I was just sitting out for so long and watching basketball and not getting to do anything sports related at all. Now finally coming back and getting to play softball, it just feels amazing. You can’t explain it very well.”
Her bat did a lot of the talking for her against the Royals. Chisholm doubled in her first at-bat of the spring to help Osakis jump out to a 4-1 lead after the first inning. She finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
She hit the ball hard all night against Royalton. Her final at-bat gave the Silverstreaks the 10-run lead that allowed them to end things in five innings. Chisholm sent a fly ball the opposite way on a ball that deflected off the glove of the Royals’ right fielder. The play was ruled an error, but it drove in three runs and was the kind of contact she was looking for in her first game back after the injury.
“I felt comfortable,” Chisholm said. “I didn’t feel like anything was stopping me. So what if I have to wear a brace now. It doesn’t stop me. I don’t second-guess myself like some people might. I just go out and say, ‘I’m going to play,’ and give it my all. I’m going to do it.”
It was a welcome return for an Osakis team that is trying to put together its second straight trip to the state tournament. Osakis lost three seniors, including cleanup hitter Mercedes Klimek, who is playing at the University of Minnesota-Morris this spring. Klimek was an all-state player the past two seasons.
“I don’t think you can replace it,” head coach John Stigman said of her production. “Every new year is a new team, and you go with what your strengths are. We’re not going to have someone in the four spot that’s going to hit 12 home runs and 50-some RBIs. At the same time, we have some kids who can swing the bat…we’ll probably play a little more short game this year. I’ve got some kids who can really run and lay the bunt down.”
The Silverstreaks used that small-ball approach on Tuesday night. They scored their first run on a pickoff attempt at third base as Alex Anderson broke home on the throw to tie the game at one apiece.
Anderson is one of the table setters at the top of the lineup. She started the four-run rally in the first with a running bunt that she beat out for an infield single. Anderson followed with the same thing in her next at-bat and finished with two runs scored. Sabrina Zimmel provides some of the power in the lineup. She added an RBI-double and Alida Hovey went 1-for-1 with an RBI, as well.
“I thought we played well for the opening game,” Stigman said. “We got some scrimmages in, which helps. We weren’t just coming from getting outside the day before and then coming out and playing a ballgame. I could sense [Monday] at practice that mentally we were ready to go.”
Zimmel wasn’t quite in midseason form from the circle but did plenty to limit the Royalton bats. She scattered three hits and four walks on her way to giving up just a first-inning run. Zimmel has the ability to blow batters away when need be, and she did that with nine strikeouts against the Royals.
Having that dominant arm to rely on is a luxury when trying to replace three other quality players. Zimmel is an all-state pitcher who has seen all the pressure situations there is to see during her career.
“I think we have an advantage with that because we do have an all-state pitcher back,” Stigman said. “When you’re looking at replacing someone on a team, replacing a good pitcher is probably harder than anything else. We don’t have that problem this year. We’ll have to figure that out next year, but for this year, we’re going to go with a good pitcher as far as we can.”
Osakis hopes that is all the way back to the state tournament. The section figures to be more open this season, but with a healthy Chisholm and the rest of an experienced lineup, the Silverstreaks believe they can be in the mix when it counts.
“I think we’ll be all right,” Stigman said. “There are some good teams around. In our subsection, Eden Valley’s got a good team. I think Isle in the section was a fairly young team, and I think Barnum was a fairly young team. We’re going to play our games and keep developing and hopefully we’ll be there in June.”
ROYALTON 100 00 – 1 3 4
OSAKIS 422 5X – 13 6 0
OSAKIS PITCHING – Zimmel – W, 5IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 4BB, 9SO
OSAKIS HITTING – Chisholm – 2-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Anderson – 2-2, 2 runs; Zimmel – 1-3, 2B, RBI; Alida Hovey – 1-1, RBI