Alexandria playing like a section contender at 8-2 behind a potent offense so far
Alexandria softball is locked in offensively through 10 games, hitting .350 as a team. That offense has been the catalyst of a group that is now 8-2 and gaining more confidence with every win.
Alexandria senior Emma Magaard stepped to the plate on Saturday morning against Eden Valley-Watkins with the bases loaded and a chance to blow the game wide open.
She is craving that kind of situation right now. For good reason.
Magaard is hitting .474 with a .512 on-base percentage through 10 games. She has a team-high 18 hits, and she wasn’t looking to walk with three runs to drive in out there.
“To be honest, I saw it was a ball, but I wanted it. I knew it might be called a strike, so as I was hitting, I was like, ‘(head coach Randy) Albers is going to kill me if I don’t hit it,’” Magaard said with a laugh. “I hit it and it landed perfectly.”
Magaard laced a double in that at-bat that cleared the bases and made it a 9-0 game. Sophomore Aubrie Porter then knocked in another run with a single to beat Eden Valley (5-4) by the 10-run rule. It was part of two wins for Alexandria in its home invite as the Cardinals improved to 8-2 overall after a 6-5 win over Little Falls (2-5).
Magaard had five RBIs against Eden Valley and six total on the day.
“She is a prime example of a player who is a former JV player who stuck with it,” Albers said. “Our record would not be where it is without her. She’s got tremendous upside. She’s really done a nice job for us defensively and offensively.”
The game against Little Falls was tied 5-5 before Emily Harris led off the bottom of the seventh inning with a walk. She stole second with two outs and advanced to third on an error. Maddie Buboltz singled her in to secure the win over a Section 8-3A team in the Flyers.
Alexandria entered the season with little varsity experience, but players are gaining more confidence with every win. The sweep on Saturday is part of four straight victories.
“I’m getting more confident. It’s helping that I’m starting. Just building that confidence is what we’re trying to work toward,” Porter, a shortstop, said of this team’s growth each game. “We all pick each other up to keep that confidence going. We don’t let each other get down on ourselves.”
An offensive outburst
The catalyst of the Cardinals’ success so far this season has been their hitting.
Alexandria collected 20 more hits on Saturday and is averaging 10.8 runs per game. That is second best in the section behind only Sartell-St. Stephen’s 14.4 runs per game.
“Albers says to never be satisfied, so that’s just how we’re playing it right now,” Magaard said.
Alexandria has a .350 batting average as a team with a .444 on-base percentage.
Of the 12 players who have played at least six games, nine of them are hitting over .300 in Jordan O’Kane (.389), Josie Steidl (.412), Kinzie Johnson (.400), Chloe Loch (.316), Buboltz (.375), Porter (.375), Magaard (.474), Harris (.313) and Brooklyn Stender (.424).
“One of our concerns coming in was would we be able to score runs,” Albers said. “I thought pitching would be where it’s at. I think as the preseason practices went on, it was more, ‘Yeah, I think we’ll be able to put the ball in play.’”
Albers knows runs will be tough to come by at certain points of the season against good teams, but he’s liked what he has seen so far from his hitters.
“We have girls, for instance (freshman) Chloe Loch -- the last organized ball she played was 7th grade,” Albers said. “She’s catching. That’s pretty indicative of everybody. You have girls who were sophomores and are seniors now getting their first field experience...They seem to be comfortable at the plate, and we’ve seen some good pitching and a variety of pitching.”
Cleaning up the defense
Albers feels some of that inexperience is showing up more on defense than it is offensively.
The Cardinals had four errors against Little Falls that led to three unearned runs. Alexandria has 37 errors total through 10 games.
“The times we have given up big innings, they have mostly been unearned,” Albers said. “You can never be good enough defensively. We always stress that. We’re struggling, but we’re getting better. (Against Eden Valley) was better. Against Fergus Falls we got better. If we can avoid the five, six-run innings, that puts us in position to win a lot of games.”
From the circle, the Cardinals have a team ERA of 3.25. Emily Harris has 32 strikeouts in 33.2 innings pitched to go with a 2.70 ERA after six shutout innings Saturday.
“We have to rely on the skills we know we have,” Magaard said. “Focus is the main key to get the plays down and get the outs. Our pitchers are doing great helping us along, and we’re just there to back them up.”
At 8-2 and 3-0 against Section 8-3A opponents, the Cardinals are right near the top of the section standings. Sartell is 10-0 and beating teams by an average of almost 12 runs per game. The Sabres come to Alexandria for a doubleheader on May 13.
Albers said Sartell looks like the 8-3A favorite right now, but he believes his team has the ability to contend in the section after seeing what his girls can do through 10 games.
“This team doesn’t seem to be intimidated by anything,” Albers said. “They’ve played other sports. You have Jordan O’Kane who played some big games in net for the hockey team. These girls have been around. They’re willing to take on whoever comes. We’ve got some work to do, and it’s important that we put ourselves atop the section so we get some home games.”
LITTLE FALLS 010 130 0 - 5 7 5
ALEXANDRIA 003 020 1 - 6 9 4
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Josie Steidl - 4.2IP, 6H, 5R, 2ER, 1BB, 6SO; Jordan O’Kane - W, 2.1IP, 1H, 0R, 0ER, 1BB, 2SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - O’Kane - 1-3, 1 run; Brooklyn Stender - 1-3, BB, 2B, 1 run; Emma Magaard - 0-4, RBI; Kinzie Johnson - 1-4, 2B, 1 run, 2 RBI; Emily Harris - 1-2, 2 BB, 2 runs, RBI; Aubrie Porter - 1-4; Madi Heid - 1-4, RBI; Paige Habberstad - 0-2; Maddie Buboltz - 1-2, 1 run, RBI; Chloe Loch - 2-2
EDEN VALLEY-WATKINS 000 000 X - 0 2 3
ALEXANDRIA 101 224 X - 10 11 0
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING - Emily Harris - W, 6IP, 2H, 0R, 4BB, 11SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Jordan O’Kane - 2-3, 2 runs; Brooklyn Stender - 0-2, 2 BB, 2 runs; Emma Magaard - 3-4, 2B, 2 runs, 5 RBI; Kinzie Johnson - 0-4; Harris - 1-4; Aubrie Porter - 2-4, 2 RBI; Maddie Buboltz - 2-3, 1 run, RBI; Josie Steidl - 0-2, RBI; Chloe Loch - 1-2, BB; Paige Habberstad - 2 runs