Cloquet softball faces offLast Thursday was an unusual but fun night for a large group of Cloquet and area softball players. That night, the U-18 Minnesota Silver Bullets met the U-16 Minnesota Blast in a Lake Superior Fast Pitch League
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
Last Thursday was an unusual but fun night for a large group of Cloquet and area softball players.
That night, the U-18 Minnesota Silver Bullets met the U-16 Minnesota Blast in a Lake Superior Fast Pitch League doubleheader at Wade Stadium’s softball complex in Duluth.
The vast majority of players on the field were from Cloquet and coach Tyler Korby got to manage both teams.
“It was a juggling act but it was enjoyable,” Korby said of the games, which were both won by the Silver Bullets. “It was actually easier than I thought it would be.”
The winning pitchers in the games, though, weren’t local. Madison Olson of Two Harbors picked up the win in the first game, a 7-1 victory for the Bullets, while Anya Olson of Grand Rapids (no relation) won the second game 13-1. Kaylee McMillen pitched both games for the Blast.
In the opener, the Silver Bullets led 3-0 in the fourth inning before pulling away, and scored 12 runs in the first inning of the nightcap, which was shortened to five innings by the 10-run rule.
“I don’t think either team really showed everything it can do,” Korby said. “The kids know how to play the game on both teams so it was fun to just watch them.
“The best thing was that it was a lot of Cloquet girls playing ball,” he added. “We didn’t worry too much about the score.”
As the night wore on, though, Korby had to overcome one obstacle.
Both teams use the same signs, so for him to flash a sign to a particular player took a bit of subterfuge.
“I had to be sneaky,” Korby laughed. “I would flash a sign to a pitcher on my leg and try to get the batter signs as well. A couple of times I was watching the Blast play defense and I forgot about Silver Bullets base runners.”
Multitasking as a manager, then, can be difficult.
However, Korby didn’t do everything by himself. Mike McMillen helped coach the Blast and kept score, and Julie Handcock did the same for the Silver Bullets.
“I’m very proud of all the kids,” Korby said. “It was fun to watch the kids go against each other. Both teams are very competitive and when both teams are playing at their best it’s fun to watch.”
The recent poor weather has limited the Silver Bullets to only six games, at a time of year when they have usually played 20 to 25 times. The Blast are 2-8-1 but are coming off a fourth-place finish at a recent tournament at Caswell Park in North Mankato, the site of the recent state tournament in which Cloquet’s varsity team earned a third-place state finish.
“That was a good result for us,” Korby said. “It was a good confidence booster for the kids.”
The season will eventually lead up to national tournament qualifiers for both teams.
The Blast will take part in the ASA Class B national qualifiers in Columbus, Wis., from July 31 to Aug. 5, while the Silver Bullets will play in the USSSA Class B national qualifiers in Rockford, Ill., from July 24-29.
“Both teams are doing fund raisers,” Korby said. “Both of these teams can be strong, but neither one of them has reached its potential.”