The Maple Lake Irish softball team continued their conference play on Tuesday, May 1, in Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted. As the away team, the Irish were up to bat first and had little success with a quick 1, 2, 3 inning. However, they answered back to the Lakers through defense and were able to get three outs right away. The second inning was more eventful as the bats got rolling. Shelby Rachel started the Irish off with a base hit, followed by Courtney Couette who hit a single. Sami Knott was able to advance the runners through a sacrifice bunt. Holly Goelz was up next at the plate and hit a single which brought in two runs. Brooke Decker kept things going by hitting a single, also bringing in two runners, which put the score at 4-0. HL-W-W wasn’t as fortunate as the Irish threw out the first three batters. In the third, Maple Lake was down to their last out when Couette hit the ball over the center-fielder’s glove and over the fence, earning her the second home run of the season.
The Maple Lake High School track team performed a rare feat last week by sending both the boys’ and girls’ track teams to the True Team State Meet. On Tuesday, May 8, the tracksters got to sleep in because of late start at MLHS, and left school quite early to head to Sibley East for the highly-anticipated True Team meet. It was a great meet as the 2012 team made history by sending both the girls’ and boys’ teams to the True Team State Meet as the Class 1A, Section 4 champions. The meet will be held at Stillwater on Saturday, May 19, starting at 10 a.m. The boys’ team won by a whopping 121 points. The girls’ scores were a little closer, with Maple Lake winning by a mere one point. Only two participants from each team were allowed to be entered in an event. “After scouting the section, I was confident that our boys would make it. Of course, I knew they would still have to perform,” said Coach Ben Youngs. “There are many variables in a track meet.
On Monday, May 7, the Irish opened up the week by traveling to Kimball to battle the Cubs in a conference game, the first of four this week. The Irish dominated the entire game by putting up 18 runs to the Cubs’ 3, earning themselves another victory. Maple Lake will have the chance to make history if they win all four games this week by earning the conference championship. Maple Lake wasted no time in this game, scoring five runs in the top of the first inning. The team batted through the entire order, with only two players not reaching the base paths. In the seventh inning the team put up another seven runs, sealing the victory completely. Major contributers of the game were senior Brian Redemske who hit the team’s first home run of the season, seniors Jake Johnson and Derek Rachel, junior Donnie Mavencamp, and freshman Cal Redemske also recorded three hits each. On the mound for the Irish was senior Zach Stokman who went the distance.
The Maple Lake Irish softball team started their week off by hosting Kimball in a conference match on Monday, May 7. To start the game, Kimball stepped up to the plate in the first inning. After getting on base by error, the Irish tightened their defense and got the next three outs. Switching to offense, Brooke Decker hit a single and eventually advanced to third base. Sydney Knudsen then put the ball in play to earn an RBI, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead. The second inning started with Kimball drawing two walks followed by a base hit with two RBIs. After the third out, Maple Lake was behind 1-2. Courtney Couette was up to bat first and reached the bases through an error. Sami Knott kept things going with a base hit and Emalee Bryant laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Then Holly Goelz hit a hard ball which brought in Couette for a run, tying the score 2-2.
It was a beautiful sunny day at Irish Stadium on Mother’s Day, and the spectators were treated to a Lakers’ come-from-behind 6-5 win over St. Louis Park. Maple Lake mustered only 5 hits but home runs powered the team to a four-run sixth inning and a two more eighth. In the next week the team hosts 7:30 p.m. league games with Albertville on Wednesday, June 16, and Mound on Friday, June 18. On Sunday, May 20, the Lakers travel to Maple Plain for a 2 p.m. game. As Lakers’ manager Chad Raiche noted after the game, it was a slow start for the hitters. In the first five innings the team had only two base runners, on Riley Decker’s walk and Raiche’s one base hit. Park’s starting pitcher Jared Carlson struck out five in that stretch. Trailing 2-0 going into the sixth, the Lakers got going in a big way. Rob Hannon was hit by a pitch, reaching third, when Graham Brown got on by an infield error.
The Maple Lake Lakers’ game with St. Francis scheduled for Sunday, May 6, was called off due to Maple Lake's wet field. Friday night, May 11, is the first Lakers’ home game under the new lights, against St. Michael at 7:30 p.m. Since the Saints compete in the North Star League Class B North Division, the game will not count in the Lakers’ final league won-loss record that determines playoff seeding. On Sunday, May 13, the Lakers host St. Louis Park in a non-league contest at 2 p.m. Farther down the line, the Lakers host Albertville on Wednesday, May 16, at 7:30. The Villains were transferred by the state board over winter into Class B and will compete in the league's North Star Division along with St. Michael, Elk River, and Rogers. More information appears in this week's Messenger.
The Maple Lake Irish softball team competed in their second playoff game against Annandale at Becker on Tuesday, May 22. As the lower seed in the section, Maple Lake took to the plate as the away team in the first inning. Brooke Decker led the Irish off with a base hit. Unfortunately, she was thrown out at second base due to a fielder’s choice which allowed Hannah Klug to reach first. Two balls hit to the center-fielder resulted in three outs and sent the Irish to the field. Annandale’s leadoff hitter was able to reach first base by drawing a walk. But, things seemed to be turning around as the second batter was called out for stepping outside the batter’s box. A fly-out to center brought the inning to two outs, but Annandale wasn’t ready to end it and Bree Ahsenmacher hit a single. The next hitters got on base through error and a walk, which brought in one runner.
On Monday, May 21, the Irish hosted Dassel-Cokato for a non-conference game. It was a tough game, but due to the lack of offense and a few mistakes on Maple Lake’s part, the boys took their fourth loss of the year by a score of 3-4. On the mound for the Irish was senior Zach Stokman who threw six and one-third innings. He allowed four runs off of seven hits and three walks. In relief for the final two outs was senior Brian Redemske, who allowed no hits and two walks in finishing the contest. In the fifth inning the Irish were finally able to break the shutout by scoring two runs. This began when senior Dedrek Berndtson was hit by a pitch, followed by a single from sophomore Landon Caughey. After a couple outs, both runners were able to move into scoring position. Up next was B. Redemske who singled which allowed both runs to score. Maple Lake picked up one more run in the bottom of the sixth inning, starting with two consecutive singles from seniors Jake Johnson and Derek Rachel.
Coming off the very memorable True Team State meet, the Irish runners were at it again when they competed at the Sub-section meet held in Annandale on Tuesday, May 22. To advance to the Section meet, an athlete must place in the top four for an individual event, and the top two in a relay. There were also preliminary races for the 100, 200, and 100/110 meter hurdles. To advance to the finals, an athlete must place in the top eight. “The kids worked hard and ran with very tired legs coming off the state meet,” said Coach Ben Youngs. “There were times that I saw kids running as hard as they could, but the legs just didn't have the same pop as they'd had at other times this season. Still, they finished better than we've ever finished in the Sub-section, boys and girls combined. “We don't set our lineup to score team points for this meet, but they do keep score, and our boys won their first-ever Sub-section championship.
A few of the golf meets in past weeks were quite the blows for both Irish teams, but the week of May 7 through 11was definitely a change for the better. Almost every player on both the boys’ and girls’ teams improved their scores. The boys had a meet on both May 7 and May 11, and the girls had one on May 11. The girls’ team headed to Kimball on Friday to take on seven competitors. One of those competitors happened to be their rival: Osakis. “It felt good to come out on top of Osakis. It was a great sense of accomplishment,” said varsity golfer Tabitha Latzig. The weather in Kimball on Friday, May 11, was much like it was here in Maple Lake. It was chilly, rainy, and quite miserable. The girls were proud of their scores but were still able to pinpoint something they could improve on. “We need to focus on not stressing out so much about the course itself, but put our focus on the game of golf,” said Latzig.