Season ends in Final Four for Moose Lake-Willow RiverPreparing his game plan Tuesday afternoon, Moose Lake-Willow River softball coach Andrew Miller could tell his girls were a tad nervous stepping onto the diamond.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
COHASSET – Preparing his game plan Tuesday afternoon, Moose Lake-Willow River softball coach Andrew Miller could tell his girls were a tad nervous stepping onto the diamond.
It was the school’s first Final Four softball appearance in 11 years.
“I could tell they were pretty nervous,” Miller said. “I looked back and noticed we hadn’t been there since 2000.”
Miller then explained that his Rebels didn’t play well.
errors and miscues led to an early exit for the Rebels, as they were blown out by Cloquet 9-1 and Eveleth-Gilbert 14-4 in six innings Tuesday in the Section 7AA Final Four in Cohasset, Minn. According to Miller, the girls made nine errors.
“That’s just not good,” he said. “At times we just threw the ball all over the place. We made some bad decisions on the bases and our hitters just didn’t do a whole lot for us.”
Senior centerfielder Maddy Adamczak agreed.
“Those were definitely not our best games at all,” she said.
ML-WR only had 10 hits on the afternoon. While facing Cloquet in their opening game, they didn’t scratch a knock until the sixth frame. They recorded seven against Eveleth-Gilbert.
“We started a little slow,” added senior leftfielder Emily Wasche. “We picked things up at the end, but by then it was a little too late.”
The top-seeded Lumberjacks out-hit ML-WR 16-3.
“We just got outplayed,” Miller said. “Cloquet is good. We got a chance to see how fundamentally sound they are. They play defense and can really hit the ball. I told the girls that we just got beat.”
After losing to Cloquet, ML-WR fell to the loser’s bracket, facing the Golden Bears, where they gave up five runs in the opening inning and never caught up. ML-WR allowed four runs in the sixth to lose by the mercy rule.
In the second inning, however, the Rebels had two base runners on with no outs and the top of their lineup stepping up when the umpire called a rain delay.
“That was tough,” Miller said. “We had something going, and then, we kind of gave that inning away after that.”
Adamczak led ML-WR with her
2-for-4 performance against Eveleth-Gilbert, including a double, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Sophomore KK Greene had a double and scored the only run against Cloquet, while junior Sam Johnson took both losses in the circle.
But Tuesday wasn’t the story of the Rebels’ year. They wrote that script last Thursday when they surprised the entire section with a 10-6 upset over heavy-favorite Virginia at Braun Park in Cloquet.
“That was, by far, the best game these girls played all season,” Miller said. “It was huge for us. We’ve had some ups and downs this year, but that one really made us feel better. It showed how these girls can play. It was a huge step for this program in the right direction.”
Adamczak played four years of varsity volleyball and basketball, along with three years of softball. Now graduated, she said none of her teams won a playoff game like the one against Virginia in her high school career.
“Not that I can remember,” she laughed. “Everyone doubted us in that game, so it made it even better. It was really exciting.”
“The coaches were impressed with us,” added Wasche. “At the beginning of the season we made some goals. And we reached some.”
ML-WR finished the year with 10 wins and 10 losses. Even with some struggles along the way, Miller liked the character of his bunch.
“It was a huge step to make it to where we got this year,” he said, referring to the Final Four. “I think it was another stepping stone in the right direction for us. With what we have returning, we expect to get back there again.”
Now graduated, Wasche also enjoyed her final run in a Rebel uniform.
“I had fun,” Wasche said. “We got a lot farther than any other team from our school has in 10 years. So that’s pretty cool.”