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 Brandon-Evansville softball team saw its bats bust out in a big way last Friday night as they scored a combined 36 runs in a sweep over Hillcrest Lutheran Academy. The Chargers scored 13 runs in the first inning on their way to a 20-5 win in the nightcap. That came after they used a seven-run fourth inning in the opener to win 16-6. "It took a bit to get used to the live pitching outside, but when we did, we really hit the ball well," head coach Tim Pattrin said.
The Ashby softball team pounded out 13 hits in an 18-4 win over West Central Area in the season opener for both teams last Friday. Madison VanSanten went 3-for-5 with three RBIs and three runs scored. Meg Roley, Chelsy Ness and Jeannette Evavold all had two hits apiece and freshman Sammy Johansen collected her first varsity hit and RBI. Paige Nelson got the win after going all seven innings. She walked nine but allowed just four hits, while striking out 11. "It was a great win," Ashby head coach Kandace Norby said.
The Minnewaska softball team swept a doubleheader against BOLD with a 7-3 win in the nightcap on Thursday after winning 13-3 in five innings in the opener. Madi Phillips got the win in both games as she went the distance and allowed just three earned runs overall. She struck out nine and scattered nine hits through the two games. The Lakers busted out with six runs in the third inning of game two. Lexi Amundson, Julie Helander, Kacia Kollman, Allyssa Engfer, Colleen Rutledge and Shana Suchy all scored in the inning.
Osakis baseball coach Shad Schmidt was optimistic coming into the season and his team didn't disappoint him in a season-opening sweep of a doubleheader on Saturday. The Silverstreaks traveled to the St. Cloud Municipal Athletic Complex to get their games in and controlled both contests in a 3-0 win over St. John' Prep and an 8-0 win over Royalton. Osakis had things going on the mound and defensively, where the Silverstreaks committed just one error in 14 innings. "We played solid defense this weekend and that's exactly what we have to do if we are going to be successful," Schmidt said.
The strong start to the season continued for the Chargers baseball team with a 12-0 win over West Central Area on Friday. Senior Zach Carlson gave Brandon-Evansville four solid innings to pick up the win. He peppered the strike zone, walking just one and allowing two hits, while striking out seven. "He was able to spot his pitches and got ahead early in the count," head coach Brian Perleberg said. "He looked comfortable and composed for this being his first varsity start." The Chargers gave him some runs to work with by scoring six through the first two innings.
The Boston Marathon on April 15 was supposed to be a memory that every one of the almost 27,000 runners who took to the starting line would cherish for the rest of their life. That was the expectation that local runners Shawn Severson, Julie Miller, Jeanne Barlage and Sabrina Hoppe shared going into the day.
The Brandon-Evansville baseball team wasn't going to let Mother Nature win this time. Parents and players had done everything they could over the last several weeks to prepare the field in Evansville, only to be wiped out by another winter storm.
It may seem like a distant memory at this point, but it was only a year ago that most of Minnesota was soaking in the sun during a beautiful month of April. Golf courses were enjoying their earliest seasons on record. Farmers were in the fields and local anglers were catching crappies and preparing for what was expected to be a great bite on the opener. Not so much this year. Instead, people in Douglas County still have snow on their lawns and ice on their lakes. It's a headache for almost everyone but a much greater inconvenience for others.
Olympic athletes don't often come from towns of 12,000 people. Then again, Olympic athletes don't ever conform to traditional standards. Alexandria's Missy Erickson is further proof of that. Many people would say she is getting ahead of herself. They would see that she has less than a year of experience since she completely devoted herself to track cycling and think there's no way. But that's not how Olympic athletes think, and that's not how Erickson thinks. "We want to go to Rio," she said of her and her U.S. teammate Madalyn Godby.
Al Newman has done a little bit of everything at every level of baseball. He's won two World Series as a player with the Minnesota Twins. He's managed in the minor leagues and coached third base under Ron Gardenhire before working with younger players in the Minnesota Baseball Academy and Legion ball. Through all those stops, he says he realized that his greatest passion is teaching the game that has given him so much. That is the opportunity he will have this summer as the field manager for the Alexandria Blue Anchors.