Summer softball is a family affair in CloquetThe summer softball scene in Cloquet is usually bustling and this summer will be no exception, with three local teams taking part in tournaments and hopefully national competition.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The summer softball scene in Cloquet is usually bustling and this summer will be no exception, with three local teams taking part in tournaments and hopefully national competition.
Cloquet varsity coach Ron Tondryk will coach the U-14 Minnesota Dynamite developmental team, and his assistant, Tyler Korby, will handle two teams – the U-16 Minnesota Blast and the U-18 Minnesota Silver Bullets.
The Bullets are a reincarnation of a team that won the Minnesota State Summer Championship in its class in 2007, and contains five Cloquet high school players including four from this spring’s state third-place finisher.
Shania Paulson, Dalyce Gustafson, Kelly Carlson and Kayla Masessa join Korby’s sister Makenzie as Cloquet players on the Silver Bullets.
“We’ve got six original players coming back,” Tyler Korby said. “We also have Laurel Morris from the old AlBrook School who was an original member of that team playing with us.”
The Blast have 13 players, 10 of which are from Cloquet. Grace Macor and Hannah Benson join the team from Carlton and Kaylan Risacher joins from Cromwell.
Yet the Silver Bullets allow the Korbys to reunite on the field – Tyler as coach, his father Joel as an assistant and Makenzie as a player.
Korby likes having the chance to coach his sister, who spent last year at North Dakota State studying business but who is still young enough to play U-18s.
“The kids were going to be playing in different areas and we wanted to bring them back for one more summer together,” Tyler Korby said. “We brought in girls from the surrounding areas to fill out the roster and it’s a cool little team.”
“It’s fun to coach Makenzie,” he added. “Sometimes she listens to me.”
Kidding aside, Tyler Korby likes the family element.
“She knows about the game,” he said of his sister. “The Silver Bullet kids are all like coaches on the field, they’ve played for so long and they make it pretty easy. It’s fun to kick back and watch them play. I flash a few signs and they go to work.”
The goal of all three teams is to make better players.
“We don’t care about the score at the start of the season,” Tyler Korby said. “We want the players to learn and play the game the right way, our way. We want them to ultimately get better. We might take our lumps early but usually all our teams have been at the top of their game at the end of the season.”
Both the Blast and the Silver Bullets will play in the U-18 division of the Lake Superior Fast Pitch League, and on June 28, the teams will play each other in a doubleheader at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. at the Wade Stadium complex.
This means that Korby will be in the unusual position of coaching both teams.
“I’ll probably just stand at third base for the whole game,” he laughed. “But before the game, I’ll give the umpire the lineup cards for both teams.”
Both the senior teams will play about 40 games this summer, including league play and several traveling tournaments, but the goal is to be playing well at the end of July for national tournament qualifiers.
“We expect both teams to be playing well and both teams hope to qualify for national play,” Tyler Korby said. “And it will be nice to be out there for a summer with my sister.”