Rebels and their pitcher mow down Barnum in first outside effortCatcher Maia Killerud caught for all of Chloe Maloney’s 14 strikeouts, while Maloney knocked in a pair of late insurance runs to help lead Moose Lake-Willow River to a 6-4 victory over rival Barnum in a Polar League softball game Monday evening in Willow River.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Meeting many mornings at the Willow River High School gymnasium before the first bell, pitcher Chloe Maloney and catcher Maia Killerud have gotten pretty good at playing softball indoors.
Outdoors, the senior duo is even better.
Killerud caught for all of Maloney’s 14 strikeouts, while Maloney knocked in a pair of late insurance runs to help lead Moose Lake-Willow River to a 6-4 victory over rival Barnum in a Polar League softball game Monday evening in Willow River.
Maloney, a 5-foot-7 right-handed drop-ball pitcher in her third year on the Rebels varsity, said she and Killerud would meet at 7:15 a.m. prior to the start of school and throw for 45 minutes, then get ready in the locker room with each other and head to opening classes.
“We’ve been best friends since the first grade,” said Maloney. “We’ve been playing softball ever since summer ball way back when.”
Monday’s game had several lead changes as the pair of small schools went back and forth underneath sunny skies. The Bombers led by a run, until the Rebels tied it and later extended their lead on a two-run single by Maloney in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Excelling in the circle, Maloney later closed the door.
“She’s improved so much from last year,” said junior third baseman Andrea Youngberg. “Not a lot of people know who she really is, but she’s just doing good and making a name for herself.”
“She’s been pitching every morning before school, and it has showed,” first-year ML-WR Coach Kelly Goeb added. “She is really doing an awesome job and has just been pulling through.”
Goeb played softball collegiately at St. Scholastica before coaching the Rebels’ elementary program for eight years in addition to the high school team now, replacing Andrew Miller. She noted veterans Youngberg, Kaitlyn Greene, Jodi Michalski and her daughter, Ally Bode, mix well around both Maloney and Killerud.
“This is a great group of girls working on team positivity and having fun,” said Goeb, adding that Monday was their first game. “They’ve made things very easy for me. The weather has not.”
Monday was Barnum’s first game too.
“It was our first time finding dirt without boots on,” said third-year Coach Sarah MacDonald, adding that they arrived 45 minutes late due to bus transportation problems. “Moose Lake came out on top, but our girls were all in a good mood. It was all about playing.”
MacDonald said they played without starting pitcher Lauren Hultgren, who was ill, but praised the efforts of freshman backup Lyric Lekander. Lone senior and third baseman Paige Rilea also snatched a line drive in the sixth, as the Bombers never faded away.
“Winning and losing doesn’t matter right now,” Rilea said. “It was our first time on a field. We’ve only been on the parking lot, if anything. I was pumped — all of us were excited to play outside.”
“I went back and threw batting practice this afternoon,” added Maloney. “I’d much rather be outside. Gym floors get slippery.”