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Carlton Heat softball enjoys fun of summer ball

For Brooke Lee, summer softball is all about fun. Most of the time, you'll see the Carlton Heat coach scrambling to find equipment or digging around for her book. But she's almost always wearing a smile. "Summer ball isn't so much about the wins ...

McKinzie Belanger
McKinzie Belanger of the Carlton Heat tags out a Proctor runner at home during one of Tuesday's double-header games at Braun Park. Carlton shut out Proctor in the first game 8-0 but fell 12-9 in the second. Jamie Lund/Pine Journal
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For Brooke Lee, summer softball is all about fun.

Most of the time, you'll see the Carlton Heat coach scrambling to find equipment or digging around for her book. But she's almost always wearing a smile.

"Summer ball isn't so much about the wins and losses," said Lee, who is the head softball coach at Carlton High School. "It's about having an enjoyable time, while still improving and learning the game the right way."

So far, she said, the Heat is doing just that.

Sitting with a 5-4 record after their first nine contests, Lee said the girls - who played together all spring - are continuously getting better.

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"These girls love playing with each other," said Lee. "They just enjoy playing softball all the time. They really do love the game."

They're young, too. All but one are eligible to play 16-and-under softball, yet Lee said they wanted to play U-18 this summer.

"You're only going to get better by playing against the highest competition," said Lee. "It's challenging, but the girls enjoy it. They're very competitive."

Two weeks ago, the Heat even knocked off the Xplosion, one of the most respected teams in the area, coached by her father, Ron Tondryk.

"I think that was the first time I've ever coached against him," said Lee about her dad, who coaches Cloquet High School during the spring season and directed Brooke while she was growing up.

"It was a fun, light-hearted game ... kind of," laughed Lee. "We tried to steal each other's signs all night."

Like father, like daughter.

While Tondryk was running around searching for chinstraps to abide by league rules, Lee needed to take a page out of her dad's scorebook, because she had just run out of all her pages.

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"We rarely keep the book and we couldn't find our chinstraps either," laughed Lee, whose Heat play in a league that has free substitution and bats everyone in the lineup. "But that's summer ball. Its laid back and fun."

The Heat most recently played Tuesday at Braun Park, where they split a doubleheader against Proctor, earning a first-game 8-0 win, followed by a 12-9 loss in game two.

But for Lee, the scoreboard doesn't matter one bit.

"With only 10 young girls, we're trying out a lot of things right now," she said. "Summer softball is about development for us. And that's happening."

The Heat will travel to Duluth to take on the top-ranked Aerials and the Ogston's Red Corvettes at 7 and 8:30 p.m. at the Wade fields on Thursday, July 1.

Related Topics: CARLTONSOFTBALL
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