Last year, the Wrens won nine games. This time around, they aim to eclipse that mark by the end of September. "This is definitely the strongest team we've had," said Carlson. "Just because we're [a small school] doesn't mean we can't kick butt sometimes."
Having moved over from old CMS' Herb Drew Pool, which they called home for decades, the Lumberjacks' new abode is second-to-none. The pristine, state-of-the-art venue — listed at 9,800 square feet — offers plenty of light, height and space for CEC's cooperative program of 44 girls. <
"It's hard to describe, just an unbelievable feeling," said Johnson. "That's our No. 1 goal: to go there every year now." In a community with as much tradition as theirs, don't count out the Cardinals. "We can do it," said Johnson, whose team hosts North Woods Friday at 7 p.m. in a highly-anticipated Nine-Man season opener. "We work our butts off every day." <
Esko enters this go-round with plenty of floor experience. Along with Stark on the outside, DeLeon, will also lean on fellow hitters in 6-foot-1 junior Bridget Yellin and freshman Taiya Gregg, already in her second year of varsity. Senior Emilee Wilson — the town's ace softball pitcher — will also contribute mightily, as well as classmate Marais Houser, at setter. Houser has been on the varsity for what seems like forever.
Fields are pristinely prepped and manicured to perfection. Teams represent eight states from around the U.S., along with eight international countries from around the world. Admission is free, concessions are cheap and — like I noted above — games at both Howard J. Lamade and Volunteer Stadiums are seemingly endless throughout the 10 days that these boys (and a few girls) make Pennsylvania their home. <
"It was a great team effort." Cloquet started district play Saturday afternoon with a 6-4 loss to the hands of Grand Rapids in nearby Soudan. Jon Baker was the game's losing pitcher. Not to be outdone with their season on the line, Cloquet then eliminated Ely 11-1 that same day to stay alive, with Gavin Rasmussen picking up the pitching win.
However, Niemi's Cloquet VFW lineup card is anything but average. Not only do the coach's 19 players keep his writing legibility honest — needing nearly two roster sheets to squeeze them all in — but they also have themselves sitting in this weekend's upcoming District 8 playoffs in Ely and Soudan.
This go-round, Niemi needs nearly two dugouts to house his VFW, as the coach has 19 players on his lineup card — technically, 138 percent more bodies than on occasion last year.
"She's a pit bull — she will not ever give that ball up unless I yank if from her," said coach Huff Emanuel. "She threw the best game I think I'd ever seen her throw. It was unbelievable.
"I was expecting it to be fun, but I definitely didn't expect it to be this fun," admitted Groth, the team's centerfielder. "It was the best experience of my life."