Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
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The Osakis softball team lost some key pieces to graduation the last couple years, but this team has simply reloaded on its way to tying Browerville and Long Prairie-Grey Eagle for a Prairie Conference title in 2013. The Silverstreaks did so by getting better as the season went along. They ended things on a 13-game winning streak, culminated by 12-4 and 10-0 wins over Swanville last Friday night. That came after taking care of Upsala and Royalton the day before. "We are proud of this team for what they have accomplished under the circumstances of the spring," head coach John Stigman said.
The Alexandria Blue Anchors unveiled their home and away jerseys at Fat Daddy's on Wednesday night and also let the fans know there would be a familiar face in those jerseys this summer. Alexandria's Dalton Leuschke has signed a full contract to play for the local Northwoods League team all summer after getting a taste of the NWL with the Beetles in 2012 on a short contract.
The Alexandria girls' track and field team may have finished third at its home triangular on Tuesday, but that was hardly the focus of the meet. The Cardinals and head coach Meghan Orgeman-Crumb have already set their sights on making a run at the Central Lakes Conference title. They set up their lineup with that in mind as the Cardinals held a lot of athletes out of their regular events and finished behind Sartell and Willmar with a true-team score of 214. Alexandria hopes the results look a little different after the CLC meet at Sauk Rapids on May 23.
Alexandria's Briquelle Bowden already has a gymnastics state title to her name. Now the senior is shooting to make a run at some of the best high jumpers on the Minnesota high school scene. Bowden set a personal best and tied a school record that had stood since 1980 at Alexandria's home triangular on Tuesday night. Bowden jumped 5'06" to tie the jump that Linda Johnson set for Alexandria more than three decades ago.
Alexandria track and field coach Mike Empting is in his first season with the Cardinal boys' team after guiding the girls for many years, and one of the biggest differences he has noticed is that age matters. Empting watched in the past as girls like Jamie Piepenburg dominated for years in distance events and Wensia Johnson won a state title in the 200-meter dash as just an eighth grader a year ago.
The Alexandria baseball team split its first of four doubleheaders this week, beating Bemidji 11-1 in five innings on Monday before falling 10-4 in the nightcap. The Lumberjacks scored six runs over the final two innings in game two to secure the split. Jake Booth got the start and allowed four runs, two earned, on eight hits over five innings. He left with the game tied at four after the fifth. Ben Allen took the loss after Bemidji got to him for six runs in 1 2/3 innings. Mitch Thompson had a couple doubles, a walk and an RBI to lead the offense.
The Alexandria adapted bowling team improved to 8-1 in the CI Division as the Cardinals prepared for the state tournament, which is set for today, Friday, at Brunswick Zone in Brooklyn Park. Almost all of the Cardinal bowlers will compete at the state meet, and they went in off another strong regular season. Patrick Takeda bowled a game-high against the Otters with a 168, while eight Alexandria bowlers reached the 400-club.
The Brandon-Evansville Bluedogs have yet to be tested through two games this season as they followed a 15-0 win in the opener with a 13-0 win over Long Prairie this past Sunday. Collin Modahl took a perfect game into the sixth inning before a leadoff walk broke it up. Long Prairie followed with a soft base hit before Modahl shut the door and finished his day with six innings pitched and seven strikeouts. Ryan Hendrickson came in for the seventh and blew away the side with three strikeouts.
The Carlos Cougars have had a lot of pitching to work with in years past and this season seems no different through two games. The Cougars won their second straight game this past Saturday and notched 15 strikeouts in the process in a 6-2 game against Kensington. Mark Hillesheim got the start and the win after walking three and allowing no hits through six innings. He fanned 10 before Jason Schueler struck out five and allowed two unearned runs over the final three frames. The offense gave them plenty to work with after a five-run first inning.
The West Central Area softball team swept a doubleheader against Swan-ville last Thursday night. The Knights had their offense going all night, winning 12-7 in the nightcap after rolling in game one, 22-10. West Central Area fell behind 7-0 in game two before scoring five in the third and tying it in the fourth. They then took a lead they didn't relinquish in the fifth on Amber Oberg's fourth hit of the game and seventh of the night. Oberg also went 3-for-5 in the opener. Mikaylah Stark went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.