The cold, brisk northwest wind and cool temperatures of May 9 weren’t a hindrance to the “Senior Day” celebration prior to the Mahtomedi and North softball game.
The North bats did more to put a chill into the Mahtomedi Zephyrs than anything else that occurred at McKnight Field.
The Polars spotted the visitors a 5-0 leeway before their bats came alive and took the wind out of the soaring Zephyrs in a shortened 5-inning game when North posted a 15-5 count that ended by the 10-run rule.
“We had a good start,” Mahtomedi head coach Angela Vedders agreed when an observer called attention to the fact the Zephyrs seemed to lose force late rather than early. “Several bad calls and a few errors made a big difference.
Combine them and that makes the difference in the ball game. But I’m proud of our girls and the composure they showed. They played hard right to the end.”
“We made it interesting,” smiled North coach Cliff Charpentier, referring to the 5-run start by the opposition. “It took us a while, but once we got going it was some big time, key hits that made the difference. We have been playing well lately. Our bats have really been coming alive.”
Coach Charpentier then cited the upcoming May 12 game against the Hill-Murray Pioneers. The Polars won their first Classic Suburban Conference contest by a count of 6-2.
Hill-Murray countered with a 4-0 win in a non-conference tournament. North has a record of 7-0 in CSC play while the Pioneers are 6-1.
Hitting the slants
In the game against Mahtomedi the Zephyrs jumped on the slants of North pitcher Haley Schanks right out of the gate.
Brittney Solensten cracked a one-out double. Maggie Germsheid banged a shot into left field to plate Solensten. Germsheid moved to second when the ball was bobbled.
Tessa Kuschke knocked a single to right to plate Germsheid Caitlyn Anderson worked a walk in front of Kristin Fry being thumped by a pitch to load the bases.
In stepped Carly Kujawa, who lifted a high pop fly just back of second base. Three Polars converged on the ball, which dropped between them, and two runs crossed home to give Mahtomedi a 4-0 inning.
The Polars left a couple of runners on base in their half of the first and Mahtomedi kept on banging the ball in the top of the second.
Annika Ziemer laced a double to the fence in left. Two outs later, Kuschke slammed a RBI single to left and the Zephyrs had a 5-0 lead.
Suddenly, in the bottom of the second, the Polars seemed to pass their unease over to the Zephyrs. Four hits, a walk, a couple of wild pitches and an infield error produced four North runs.
Carli Langevin led off with a single. Allison Knutson, Mady Strom and Amanda Proctor — 2-RBI — followed with singles.
Abby Piechowski looped a single and Katelyn Stepaniak reached on an infield error to produce 4-runs and pull North to within one at 4-5.
The Polars missed a couple of chances in the second and Schanks on the mound for North, began to gain her composure. The senior began to limit the Mahtomedi hits while she began to hurl strikeouts — she ended with nine in the 5-inning game — with consistency.
In their half of the third the Polars moved into the lead. Piechowski reached on a one out error. Stepaniak, Schanks and Erin Jungmann followed with singles. Julia Tanzer walked and Langevin smacked her third single as North moved to an 8-5 margin.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Polars sent 10 batters to the plate. Back-to-back singles by Mady Strom, Proctor, Piechowski and Stepaniak (RBi). were followed by a 2-RBI double by Schanks. A pop up later, Tanzer reached on an error in front of Langevin’s fourth single. A wild pitch later, Strom cracked her second hit of the inning, a double that produced two runs and ended the game with North up by 15-5.
In the game North had 15 runs, 17 hits, had two errors and left six on the paths. The Mahtomedi line score read 5-6-4-4.
The Zephyrs and the Polars are in Section 4AAA that begin May 19 playoff action at the home field of the school with the low seed.
The Section 4AAA playoffs continue May 20 at McKnight Fields and conclude May 29.