On a very rainy, cold Tuesday, May 21, Maple Lake hosted the Sub-Section track meet. Despite the dreadful weather, both the boys and girls teams took first place. In Sub-Sections, the top four individuals and top two relays advance to the Section meet. Maple Lake boys received first place with 249 points. Following Maple Lake was Annandale with 137.5, Rockford with 83, HLWW with 76, Lester Prairie with 55, Spectrum with 42, and Legacy Christian Academy with 26.5. “They scored three deep in many events as they have all year,” said Coach Ben Youngs. “One modern school record went down: Ryan Kalinowski went under 2:04 in the 800. Three of the four relays have qualified as well as individuals in all events except the 1600. One sad point was the end of the season and career for D.J. Cranston. He was sick and that, coupled with the weather, prevented him from coming anywhere near his best in pole vault. Still, D.J.
The 2013 Maple Lake softball team met one last time on Thursday, June 13, in the high school auditorium to wrap up their season with some well-deserved awards. The evening started with head coach Tim Knudsen addressing the players and their families. He thanked all the people who contributed to making the past season a success. He shared some game records for the seniors. Overall, they had 68 wins, 18 losses, and one tie. Knudsen awarded the players with their letters along with assistant coach Leah Davis. After that, seniors Holly Goelz and Emalee Bryant were awarded for making the All-State Academic team, seniors Sydney Knudsen and Shelby Rachel received All-Section, and Knudsen also made the All-State team. Three Maple Lake players received first team All-Conference awards and three more received second team All-Conference Awards. Seniors Hannah Klug, Knudsen, and Rachel received the first team awards. Junior Paige Blizil, Goelz and Bryant received the second team awards.
Friday, June 7, was the day five individuals from the small town of Maple Lake headed to the state meet at Hamline University. Cody Bakka, Dusty Strub, Neal Wagner, and Drew Hanson were running in the 4x200 meter relay, and senior Isaac Kotila threw the shot put. The state meet runs two separate days, one for preliminaries in some events, and the next day for finals. Unfortunately, the 4x200 team placed sixth in their heat, with a time of 1:33 which was a personal record for them, but just not quite enough to advance into the finals. Isaac Kotila didn’t advance to the finals in shot put, either. More information and stats appear in this week's Messenger.
“Rain, rain, go away.” Un-summer-like conditions on Sunday, June 9, forced the Maple Lake Lakers to postpone another game, the seventh in what some fans are calling the monsoons of 2013. Coming off a 12-0 shellacking of the Montrose-Waverly Stingers in a makeup of the May 19 rain-out, the Lakers were primed to take on the longtime rival D-C Saints, but the game could not be played. Earlier in the week the league contest scheduled at Delano on Wednesday, June 5, was also called off because of poor field conditions and the preemption of the field to finish a high school section championship that night. This cancellation will result in a rare Sunday double header. The regularly scheduled 2 p.m. game with Delano at Irish Stadium on July 14 will be immediately followed by another game with the Athletics. The D-C game has not yet been rescheduled. The Lakers also must make up games with Hutchinson and Rockford.
The Maple Lake Legion baseball team took on the Buffalo Bison last Thursday, looking to get back on the winning side of things after dropping two straight tilts. With the playoffs sneaking up on the Irish, they knew they needed to win or else getting into the post-season would be very tough. Starting on the hill for Maple Lake was Zach Johnson, who threw four and 2/3 innings. The first two innings of the game were relatively quiet for both teams, but in those two innings, Buffalo gained a small 2-1 edge. But, in the top of the third inning, the Irish offense was able to push across a run tying, the game back up again. That was short-lived, however, when the Bison hitters were given an extra two outs in the fifth inning because of errors, which allowed them to score a total of six runs, putting the score at 8-2. During the rough fifth inning, Donnie Mavencamp came in to throw for the Irish and went the rest of the game without giving up an earned run.
The Lakers came out of the last five games with four wins, improving their record to 16-3 going into Wednesday’s All-Star break. Lakers 9, Buffalo 2 Ben Jungers pitched a complete game four-hitter to knock off the struggling Bulldogs in a June 24 make-up game at Irish Stadium. Jungers struck out eight, allowing one earned run. The Lakers put the game away in the third with four runs on two hits, three walks, and two Buffalo errors. Designated hitter Derek Rachel, Mitch Wurm and Tim Queck had RBI. In the fifth, Brian Redemske blasted a solo home run over the left-field wall at 340 feet, his second of the season. The Lakers turned two neat Luke Wurm to Nate Johnson to Dusty Decker double plays. The only bright spot for Buffalo was the speed and acrobatic play of left-fielder Joe Pokorney, who made two outstanding catches. More information and stats appears in this week's Messenger.
The Maple Lake Legion team hosted the Howard Lake Lakers on Monday, June 17. Looking to gain another win the Irish knew it would be a hard-fought battle to get it. Pitching for Maple Lake was Jake Johnson, who up to this game was nearly un-hittable, but pitching well can only get a team so far. The Irish offense had been stagnant lately and had to turn things around quickly to have a chance. But things seemed to turn from bad to worse, the offense could not get anything going and the defense couldn’t catch or throw a ball to save their lives. Going into the fourth inning down quite a few runs, Maple Lake could have chosen to give up, but they didn’t. Donnie Mavencamp started things in the fifth inning with a well hit fly ball that hit the wall in deep center field, and with that momentum they stayed focused and were able to put up a few runs. But, in the end it turned out to be too little too late.
In the grand scheme of things with three straight nights of stormy weather damaging property, uprooting trees, and causing massive power outages, baseball might not seem so important. But to area town team managers and players, game postponements create lots of trouble. Make-up games have to be crammed into already busy schedules, and the pitching rotation is thrown into confusion. During the past week, the Maple Lake Lakers picked up league wins against Hutchinson and Montrose-Waverly, but wet fields at Maple Plain on Saturday and Irish Stadium on Sunday meant cancellation of two more games. At the end of the weekend, the Lakers stood on top of the North Star League with a record of 9-1, 12-2 overall. The Lakers are only half through their schedule of North Star League games which began May 5. Howard Lake is second in the league at 10-3. Upcoming Games June 26 Rockford 7:30 p.m. June 28 D-C Saints at Dassel Stadium 7:30 p.m. June 30 at Cokato Kings, Brooks Lake Park 2 p.m.
The Lakers put together 19 hits along with four bases on balls, a hit batter, and two Mound errors to win its second straight over the Mallards at Irish Stadium on Fathers’ Day. The brutal game lasted three hours. In the tradition of big Laker innings, 10 batters came to the plate in the fifth inning and scored six runs on five hits, a walk, and a Mallards' error. In the eighth, the Lakers scored seven more runs on seven hits, a walk, and hit batter to give the Lakers a 17-4 lead, and it looked as though the game would end on the 10-run rule. However, the Mallards were the home team for the day and came back with five runs to narrow the gap 17-9 in their half of the eighth. Included in the eighth scoring was a two-run homer by shortstop Ed Kutz, his second of the day. He blasted one in the fourth for two runs. Ben Jungers started on the mound for the Lakers and lasted until the seventh to take the win and improve his record to 2-1.
With a double-header win over Delano in front of a large crowd at Irish Stadium on Sunday, July 14, the Lakers won first place in the North Star League with a record of 18-3 with one regular season game left. With the No. 1 seed, the Lakers will open 12C Region action at Howard Lake against the No. 8 team. Before the region, Manager Chad Raiche is looking forward to honing the Lakers’ skills with tough competition against Victoria on July 19 and Moorhead on June 21. He said those games would help get the team get ready in hopes of returning to the State Tournament. Raiche also said the rare opportunity for practice time would give the team a chance to work on fundamentals and hitting. In the mean time, Cokato, Rockford, Mound, Buffalo, and Montrose will battle it out for the final playoff spot in what will be an eight-team double- elimination regional tournament with all games at Howard Lake. The play-in and region schedules are on the league website: northstarleague.org.