Kaitlyn Greene packs powerful punch for ML-WR softball squadA goaltender in the wintertime, Moose Lake Area girls hockey netminder Kaitlyn Greene primarily works on keeping pucks out of the net. In spring, though, she spends her time tagging balls over the fence
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
A goaltender in the wintertime, Moose Lake Area girls hockey netminder Kaitlyn Greene primarily works on keeping pucks out of the net.
In spring, though, she spends her time tagging balls over the fence.
The Moose Lake High School junior is perhaps the heaviest-hitting softball player around the area this season, as the shortstop already has five home runs and leads the Rebels on the diamond.
Greene’s biggest round-tripper came last Thursday, when the 5-foot-6-inch cleanup hitter creamed a three-run, game-winning, walk-off shot over the centerfield fence in Willow River to give the Rebels a 5-4 win over Esko.
“I thought they were going to walk me,” said Greene, who had three hits, two homers and all five of the Rebels runs batted in last week. “I just got a pitch I liked, turned on it and it went over. It was a surreal moment.”
Third-year ML-WR Coach Andrew Miller said Greene followed a seeing-eye single by sophomore Andrea Youngberg and a walk by senior Sam Johnson. He noted once Greene connected, there was never a doubt.
“The second it left her bat, I knew it was gone,” Miller said of Greene, who is hitting a whopping .600 this season. “She was seeing the ball well.”
“I feel like I can hit any pitch that I want,” Greene added. “This year has been big for me. And that night [against Esko] I was definitely hot.”
That hasn’t always been the case for the dual-sport athlete, who admitted she was in a slump last year. Having turned the tables since, Greene has been one Youngberg has gone to for advice about hitting.
“I guess you could call it a sophomore slump,” Youngberg said. “Like Kaitlyn was last year, I was in one this year. But she’s helped me out. She never gets down and is always so positive. She has such great energy.”
Youngberg boasts a .500 average with three home runs for the Rebels’ rugged offensive attack that had won five straight games until their 14-6 defeat at Proctor Monday evening.
“They just played better than we did,” Miller said of the Rails. “We gave up too many runs. Usually when you score six runs you expect to win or be close to it, but not yesterday. I don’t want to take anything away from Proctor – they are much improved – but it just wasn’t one of our better games.”
Miller said his Rebels (6-5) have struggled with steadiness this spring.
“We’re still trying to find that consistency when we play,” he said. “At times, we’ve had opportunities, but we just can’t take advantage of them.”
Miller explained that along with Greene and Youngberg, Johnson has also been stellar with her bat, while seventh-grade outfielder Ally Bode has been a pleasant surprise. Johnson has pitched all but a pair of the Rebels games, while junior hurler Chloe Maloney has been productive in relief.
Along with their Polar League win over the Eskomos last week, ML-WR has toppled Hinckley-Finlayson, Cromwell-Wright, Floodwood, East Central and Duluth Marshall. Youngberg said their squad is progressing.
“Physically, I think we’re a strong team and let our bats do the work,” Youngberg said, “but we need to improve in the field and know where to go when we get the ball. It’s more of a mental aspect of the game for us.”
Although Miller admitted making a sectional semifinal run like they did a year ago will be a difficult task to repeat, the coach was confident in his girls’ chances if things can clean up in the next couple weeks.
“I think the girls know they can play a little better,” he said after their Proctor loss. “If we can find that consistency – especially defensively – I think we can make some noise in the section playoffs.”
“Last year we got to the Final Four,” Youngberg added. “This year we all want to get back and make a splash. We want to make our mark.”
Just like Greene’s fence-clearing crack last week.