The Osakis softball team has played within striking distance against Albany three times this season, but all three times the Huskies found a way to win.
The final one of those ended the Silverstreaks’ season on June 8 in Waite Park.
Albany (19-6) won 9-5 Tuesday to set up a matchup against Pierz (23-2) that night for the right to face Annandale (22-2) in the section championship. Pierz beat the Huskies in a 6-3 game.
“We are proud of this team and its resilience,” Osakis head coach John Stigman said. “Throughout this school year and season, we have had so much thrown at us that we had to deal with. We have shown great resilience throughout. Every time something knocked us down a notch, we responded.”
Albany used a four-run second inning to open the game up against Osakis (15-8) after the Silverstreaks led 1-0 after half an inning. The Silverstreaks committed four errors as the Huskies used that to score five unearned runs.
Hayleigh Niehoff went all six innings from the circle for Osakis. She allowed eight hits and issued just one walk against a talented Albany lineup that averaged 8.8 runs per game.
Osakis assistant coach Brad Zimmel called Albany’s Paige Meyer a game changer in the contest as a player who does so many things well. Meyer doubled and tripled for the Huskies as she drove in a run and scored three runs herself. Ashley Wieber was also 2-for-4 with two RBI and two runs scored, and Audrey Rieland and Joran Carlson each drove in two runs.
Lexi Klimek drove in two runs and had one of Osakis’ seven total hits. Kennedy George and Laynee Hartshorn also drove in runs for the Silverstreaks.
Section 6AA has a lot of good teams in it, and Osakis created plenty of memories with three wins in the tournament this year. The Silverstreaks beat Melrose, Pillager and Holdingford.
“About two weeks ago, we were not playing well,” Stigman said. “We were tired and exhausted, emotionally drained, and reeling. After two really bad losses, we had a short practice, focusing on fundamentals, and just decided that we needed to lower the stress. The response was a nice long run through the section tournament to the final four teams. That's the way this team has been, they get knocked down but they always get up again. Watching them compete with joy and togetherness the last week has been so much fun. We are proud of them.”
The Silverstreaks went 15-8 overall and finished 5-3 in the Prairie Conference. That tied them for second place in the conference with Long Prairie-Grey Eagle and behind only undefeated Browerville (22-0) as the Tigers won the Prairie Conference title with an 8-0 record.
“Our goal this year was to not leave the field until our time was up,” Stigman said. “I would say, given the run we had, we accomplished that goal and we made some great memories in the process.”
Osakis had some good seniors to lean on this year in Grace Oeltjen, Tia Dykema, Laynee Hartshorn and Brittany Dietrich.
“We lose four tremendous people who have been a part of this team for years,” Stigman said of those seniors. “Each of them has been so positive and so purposeful in all they do. We cannot thank them enough for all they have done. We will miss them.”
OSAKIS 103 100 0 - 5 7 4
ALBANY 242 001 X - 9 8 3
OSAKIS PITCHING - Hayleigh Niehoff - L, 6IP, 8H, 9R, 4ER, 1BB, 0SO
OSAKIS OFFENSE - Grace Oeltjen - 0-5; Kennedy George - 1-3, BB, 2 runs, RBI; Tia Dykema - 1-3, BB, 3B, 1 run; Laynee Hartshorn - 1-2, 2B, BB, 1 run, RBI; Niehoff - 1-4; Lexi Klimek - 1-3, 2 RBI; Shelbe Schmidt - 0-3; Maggie Dirkes - 1-4; Josee Hartshorn - 1-3, BB, 1 run