Although she let out a squeal after hitting her first-ever career home run Monday, it was just running around the bases this week that excited Moose Lake freshman Ally Bode most.
Most of the high school softball season has been happening inside until now, but area players and teams — like Bode and Moose Lake-Willow River — are finally getting outdoors.
“We’ve been cooped up for quite a bit,” said Bode of their daily practices in the Willow River High School gymnasium. “I love softball; it’s fun — it’s just awesome to get outside again.”
Behind Bode, who pitched the Rebels to 14-3 and 14-4 wins at Aitkin Monday and versus Floodwood Tuesday on the sand-based field in Willow River, ML-WR has started strong.
In the two games — both shortened by the mercy rule — the right-handed- throwing Bode struck out 11 batters in 11 innings. Against the Gobblers Monday, the speedy lefty leadoff batter belted a two-run home run over the right field fence.
“I squealed,” Bode admitted. “I was pretty pumped.”
Mobbing her at home plate were her teammates, including senior third baseman Andrea Youngberg, who remembered her first-ever homer as an eighth-grader on the varsity team.
“I almost tripped over first base!” Youngberg said with a laugh, noting her shock of the feat at such a young age. “For [Ally] to get her first as a ninth-grader, that’s pretty fun.”
The Rebels (2-0) could have a fun season. Led by the heavy-hitting lefties Youngberg and Bode, ML-WR — which starts five underclassmen — also features experienced seniors in Nikki Grutkoski, Jodi Michalski and Alyssa Wright.
“We have a good mix of kids,” said second-year Coach Kelly Goeb, also Bode’s mother, noting that they’ve all helped in a couple shoveling parties to get their field playable. “I shouldn’t say it, but we need a little rain now to soften it up.”
The Rebels host Carlton (2-0) Thursday in Willow River. The Bulldogs beat Silver Bay 11-3 and Two Harbors 17-4 in a doubleheader Monday in Lindstrom, Minn.
Junior pitcher Grace Macor mowed down 21 batters in the 14 innings, all caught by her sunburnt catcher, Hannah Benson.
“I was saved by my mask,” laughed Benson, a sophomore.
Tuesday, Barnum (1-0) blanked host Braham 4-0 in their opener, as junior Cheyenne Johnson jacked a solo home run to back senior pitcher Lauren Hultgren’s complete-game victory.
Cloquet (1-0) played its first game on Tuesday too, trouncing host Hibbing 12-0 in five innings. Seniors Katrina Smith, Breanne Baker, Sammy Zeadow and sophomore Kassidy Steen all had multiple hits behind senior Chandler Beaupre’s two-hitter in her first game in cleats since last fall.
“I was just hoping I still had laces in there,” she said, laughing.