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Tourney Postponed-Cancelled

April 24, 2010
East softball tourney postponed due to rain
Play to resume at Caswell Park today

By Jim Rueda Free Press Sports Editor

MANKATO — Rain and the softball team from Orono were the only winners at Caswell Park Friday night as the Mankato East Fastpitch Tournament had to be aborted early due to wet and windy conditions.

Most of Friday’s first-round games were played in the rain. The umpires and tournament director Todd Waterbury let them go for about an hour before conceding to the elements and suspending play.

Orono managed to defeat Winona Cotter 3-2 before the game were stopped. In other action, Eastridge is leading New Ulm 3-2 in the sixth inning, St. Francis has a 4-1 lead over Minnetonka in the fifth and Maple River and Mankato East are tied 2-2 after four innings.

East took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second without getting a hit. Christa Wolner walked, was sacrificed to second by Jordan Kuster, tagged up and went to third on a fly to right by Savannah Quandt and scored on a wild pitch.

Maple River took a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth. Mandi Stencel led off by reaching on a two-base outfield error and moved to third on base hit to left by Cara Doyen. Doyen advanced to second on a passed ball and both runners scored when Joanne Trio bounced a single up the middle.

East tied it in the bottom of the fourth. Kuster led off with a walk, advanced on a fielder’s choice and scored on a base hit by Tara Werkmeister. As soon as the inning ended, play was suspended.

Weather permitting, the tournament will resume with the conclusion of the first-round games at 10:30 a.m. today. The second round and final round games will follow immediately after.

East tops Century

April 23, 2010
Ries no-hits Rochester Century

The Free Press

MANKATO — Mankato East pitcher Nicole Ries fired a no-hitter with 12 strikeouts and two walks on Thursday, leading her team to a 4-0 Big Nine Conference softball shutout over Rochester Century at Thomas Park.

E.J. Scharmer hit a solo home run for the Cougars and Tara Werkmeister added a two-run double.

The Cougars (4-3) host a tournament this weekend. East opens play at 5 p.m. today against Maple River at Caswell Park.

East Falls to Owatonna

April 14, 2010 Owatonna spoils East's debut of new field Pilcher, Owatonna top Cougars in 14 innings By Jim Rueda Free Press Sports Editor MANKATO — The inaugural game at the new Mankato East softball field at Thomas Park went off without a hitch Tuesday — if you happened to play for Owatonna. Owatonna rode the right arm of eighth-grader Lianna Pilcher to a 2-1, 14-inning victory, spoiling the Cougars’ debut on the refurbished Thomas Park No. 2 diamond. Pilcher struck out 18 batters, scattered nine hits and stranded 15 runners to get the win. “She has a lot of composure for a young pitcher,” Owatonna coach Kristi Hiatt said. “She’s young, but she’s already pitched a lot for us. She was All-Big Nine Conference as a seventh-grader last year.” Pilcher out-dueled East’s Coley Ries on the plush, green field, which features stone dugouts, tall outfield fencing and a right-field scoreboard. Ries, a sophomore right-hander, allowed one earned run on 10 hits and a walk with 12 strikeouts. “Coley’s pitching was about the only bright spot for us,” East coach Joe Madson said. “We left way too many runners in scoring position, couldn’t get our bunts down, couldn’t get the clutch hit, and threw the ball around defensively, too. “There’s a lot we need to work on. We’ll just go back to practice and try to iron some things out.” Owatonna scored the game’s first run in top of the fourth. With two outs, Aimee Goodew bounced an opposite-field, RBI double down the right-field line. East came right back in the bottom half of the inning. Ries led off with a single to left and came all the way around on a double to deep left by E.J. Scharmer. The Cougars had ample opportunities to score again but left at least one runner in scoring position in nine of the last 10 innings. Owatonna pushed the winning run across in the 14th. Breezy Pitan began the rally with a single to center, was advanced to third on a sacrifice and base hit, and scored on catcher Scharmer’s off-target throw back to the pitcher. Hallie Enderle led the East attack, going 4 for 5. Scharmer finished 2 for 6. The loss was the first for East against a Big Nine Conference team not based in Mankato in four years. Owatonna improves to 2-1 while East falls to 0-1.

2010 Preview

March 19, 2010
Experienced East looks to stay on top of the Big Nine
Seven All-conference players return from last year’s 20-4 squad

Tom Lemmermann Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Coming off of a 20-4 season, including a Big Nine title, the Mankato East softball team has big aspirations for the upcoming season, and senior Christa Wolner figures to play an important role in getting there.

“My role is to be a leader and show the other girls how to practice and (work on) different skills,” the outfielder said. “Everyone (outside of softball) thinks it’s a really lazy sport, but you actually have to work hard to do it.”

Wolner would know, having been named to the All-Big Nine Team in her sophomore and junior years. Last season, she hit .329 with 16 runs scored, 13 RBIs, five doubles and a triple in 73 at-bats. To end her career, she said she wanted the Cougars to win the section title outright.

The captain said that over her softball career, past teammates were the biggest influence on her career.

“I really look up to (2008 East grad) Laura Vanderhoof,” Wolner said. “She really helped me a lot (with softball).”

Wolner is just one of seven players returning that were named to the All-Big Nine Team a year ago. Also returning are team co-MVPs and All-Section 2AAA members Coley Ries and Karli DesLauriers.

The Cougars, who played in Section 2AAA last year, will play in Section 2AA this season.

“Our goals as a team are always (to) win a Big Nine title,” Madson said. “We want to win a section title and it’s been that way since 1994 when I started coaching here. (Last year) we finished fourth in Section (2AAA) and we feel like we could have finished higher than that.”

DesLauriers, a junior shortstop, led the offense with a .578 average, 26 runs scored, five doubles, two triples, 16 RBIs and a staggering 29 stolen bases.

Ries, a sophomore, allowed just 16 earned runs in 153 innings for a microscopic 0.73 ERA and struck out 104 batters.

“She’s a pitcher,” Madson stressed. “She picks her spots, she changes speeds and that’s just such a big part of the game.”

Unfortunately, Ries suffered an arm injury in the fall and may not be able to carry the same workload as last year. Senior Nicole Hoffmann and junior Alison Brown may also see time on the mound for East.

“Coley Ries pitched awfully well last year as a ninth-grader,” Madson said. “She just has to stay healthy for us. She probably hasn’t thrown a ton, but certainly she’s going to be our ace. She did a lot of pitching last year and was maybe overworked at times.”

Aside from pitching, Madson is confident that his team is well-rounded enough to compete for the section title.

“I just think we’re going to have some good versatility,” the coach said. “We should be fairly strong 1 through 9 in the lineup and should be pretty solid defensively.”

Aside from their skill sets, the team’s chemistry is yet another reason to believe their goals are attainable.

“We’re actually a really close team,” Wolner said. “You don’t really notice (that) people are different ages. We’re all really good friends and hang out with each other outside of the game.”

Madson also said his team has a positive attitude.

“I think the confidence level will be real high. They get along real well. They have fun in practice but they also have fun in practice. They’re serious about it.”

East clinches share of Big Nine title

Trying to go from also-rans a year ago to Big Nine Conference champions in 2009, sophomore catcher E.J. Scharmer was determined to do something for her Mankato East softball team Friday.

Scharmer had struck out twice in her two previous at-bats and was up in the fifth inning with her team clinging to a one-run lead over Rochester Mayo. She took one pitch and then bounced an RBI single through the left side to give the Cougars an insurance run.

East went on to beat the Spartans 4-0 to clinch at least a share of the Big Nine Conference title with a 16-1 record.

“My first two at-bats I was pulling my head,” Scharmer said. “That last time I made sure to keep my head in there. I was hoping it would go through.”

Freshman Coley Ries pitched a masterful game for the Cougars despite two rain delays. She ended up with a two-hitter, walking four and striking out seven.

Ries’ only serious trouble came in the sixth inning when Mayo put two runners on with one out. Kalli Clark moved both runners up with a sacrifice for the second out, before Ries fanned Linsy Hoosier to end the threat.

East’s Karli DesLauriers drove in the winning run with a triple to right field, following a walk to her sister, Lexi DesLauriers. Scharmer delivered her RBI single one out later and East’s Hallie Enderle added a two-run single up the middle in the sixth to all but seal the win.

“It felt so good when I hit it,” Enderle said. “This has been an amazing season so far.

“There was no way I thought we’d be in this position after losing a great pitcher like Laura (Vanderhoof), but Coley he really come through for us.”

East head coach Joe Madson said he expected Ries to pitch well but probably not quite as well as she has this season.

“We also got a lot of help from two eighth-graders — Jordan Kuster and Savannah Quandt. They came in and plugged some holes for us. Jordan has been a great No. 4 hitter and Savannah has played a great third base.

“I knew we’d be competitive but 18-2 is even better than I thought we’d do. The girls made the plays and got the hits and here we are. Now we have to get ready for the playoffs.”

If Mankato West (15-1 in Big Nine) does not finish a rained-out game with Winona, the two Mankato schools will likely share the league crown.

East and West begin Section 2AAA play Tuesday at Caswell Park.

Cougars up record to 8-0

Mankato East softball team downs Austin

Mankato East softball coach Joe Madson said all his team needed to do to be successful Thursday was have a little patience. And in the fourth inning of a Big Nine Conference game with Austin at Caswell Park, the patience kicked in — and so did the runs.

The Cougars broke a 1-1 tie with two runs in the second inning and added three more runs in both the fourth and fifth innings to cruise to a 9-3 victory over the Packers and keep their perfect record intact.

“I just told them after the first two innings, ‘We’re swinging at all her pitches right now,’” Madson said. “We’re so impatient, and the kids want to get up and hit because they’re so excited.

“Sit back, let her throw strikes. They know that, sometimes they just have to be reminded, and they did a good job of adjusting to that tonight.”

Taylor Homan broke the 1-1 tie in the fourth inning with a single up the middle to bring home Savannah Quandt, and Karli DesLauriers followed Homan with an RBI single to make it a 3-1 game.

Austin had threatened in the top of the inning, putting runners on second and third with one out. East freshman Coley Ries pitched out of the jam, though, retiring the next two batters, one on a strikeout.

“That’s what you need to do,” Madson said. “Take advantage of those opportunities and cut them off.”

East broke the game open in the fifth with three more runs, taking advantage of defensive miscues by the Packers. Austin struggled, leaving 10 runners on base.

“(The clutch hitting) is really important,” Karli DesLauriers said. “We needed to get the runs in and we needed to get up in the game.”

Jordan Kuster led the Cougars with a 3-for-3 effort. Karli DesLauriers went 2 for 5 with a double, a stolen base and two runs scored. E.J. Scharmer, Nicole Hoffmann, Christa Wolner and Lexi DesLauriers each had two hits.

Ries picked up the win allowing two runs — one earned — on eight hits in six innings. She struck out seven and walked one. Hoffmann pitched the final inning.

East (8-0) hosts the Cougar Invitational with a 5 p.m. game today against St. Francis at Caswell Park.

West gets its revenge

Mankato East’s Savannah Quandt (25) and Nicole Hoffmann catch Mankato West’s Janee Wise in a rundown during the second inning of Tuesday’s game at the West field.
Lauren Weber’s RBI single and the two-hit pitching of Ashley Veroeven lifted Mankato West to a 1-0 Big Nine Conference softball win over Mankato East Tuesday at the West field.

Weber’s slicing opposite-field liner off Cougars’ freshman Coley Ries scored courtesy runner Kaley Scearcy with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Sophomore catcher Mia Barten ignited things with a leadoff single and Gena Chester followed with a sacrifice bunt.

Veroeven struck out 12 and walked one as the Scarlets (16-2 overall, 14-1 in Big Nine) thwarted East’s attempt to clinch the Big Nine title. East, which ended West’s 51-game conference winning streak to open the season, stands at 17-2 overall and 15-1 in the Big Nine.

“We were really looking forward to that first game but I felt like we weren’t mentally prepared,” Weber said. “They were really ready to go and that took us by surprise.

“We’ve been waiting for this game ever since. We wanted our revenge really bad and we got it. It feels good.”

Veroeven dominated the early stages, fanning eight Cougars through the first three innings and taking a no-hitter into the final frame. East advanced Nicole Hoffmann to third base — throwing error, stolen base and bunt — with one out in the fifth before Veroeven got a strikeout and a bouncer back to the mound.

Eighth-grader Jordan Kuster’s infield single gave the Cougars a one-out chance in the seventh inning. Hoffmann was then credited with a single when her hard grounder glanced off pinch runner Hallie Enderle’s leg for the second out. After a walk to Christa Wolner, an infield out ended things.

“That loss has been in the back of our minds the whole time,” Veroeven said. “It was a horrible feeling.

“East is our rival and I think that woke us up a little bit and made us take every team seriously. I worked the batters today. I knew what to pitch to who.”

West got singles from Janee Wise and Weber in the third inning but both were thrown out on the bases. Weber and senior first baseman Ashley Goettl collected two hits apiece off Ries, who struck out three and walked one in losing a six-hitter.

“It was just two solid teams battling each other,” East coach Joe Madson said. “I thought both pitchers were outstanding, making it real tough on the hitters. Our kids hung in there and battled in some tough conditions.”

Veroeven threw 109 pitches in the contest, striking out Ries in a nine-pitch at bat in the first inning and Karli DesLauriers in an 11-pitch, sixth-inning battle.

“Ashley is a big-time player and we’ve grown accustomed to seeing her do that,” West coach Don Krusemark said. “The wind was tough on both teams but I thought we moved the ball pretty well.”

Both teams are in action Friday with East hosting Rochester Mayo at The Diamond at Minnesota State and West playing at Austin.

Cougars stun Scarlets in softball

West's 51-game Big Nine winning streak broken MANKATO — If Mankato West head coach Don Krusemark was concerned about his defending state runner-up softball team become too complacent this season, he no longer has to worry. The Scarlets were stunned by a young and feisty Mankato East squad in West’s season-opener at the Minnesota State University field, as the Cougars earned a 4-3 decision in nine innings. The victory snapped a 51-game Big Nine Conference winning streak by West that dated back to 2005. “The coach told us before the game that they hadn’t lost in three years in the conference,” East’s Christa Wolner said. “He said the pressure was on them, not on us. The longer we hung with them the more our confidence grew.” Starting pitchers Ashley Veroeven for West and freshman Coley Ries for East both looked sharp most of the way. Each had one inning where they struggled. West struck for three runs in the top of the fourth with the help of a two-run single by Nikki Starkson and an RBI double by Vanessa Lloyd. East answered with three runs in the bottom half of the inning as Wolner stroked a run-scoring double to left-center and Lexi DesLauriers bounced a two-run single just inside the first base line. Both teams had their chances over the next few innings, but could not capitalize until East put together the winning rally in the bottom of the ninth. The Cougars loaded the bases with one out on hits by Wolner and Homan and an intentional walk to Karli DesLauriers. Ries then followed with a bouncer to second. “I didn’t think I hit it very well,” she said. “Actually, I was afraid it might be a double play because I don’t run very fast.” It didn’t come to that as second baseman Lloyd threw home but the ball was bobbled by catcher Rita Hurd, enabling Wolner to score the winning run. The play made a winner out of Ries who allowed 10 hits over nine innings with three strikeouts and a walk. “She threw a great game,” East coach Joe Madson said. “She not only threw her change-up for strikes, but threw it just off the plate, too, and that made it very effective. “Even though this is just a regular season Big Nine game this is a big win for us. We hadn’t beaten them in four years and they hadn’t lost a Big Nine game in long time. This should give our young players a lot of confidence.” West coach Don Krusemark said his team had its chances but couldn’t capitalize. “We didn’t get the key hit when we needed it,” he said. “But give East credit, they made the plays when they had to.” The Cougars (4-0) are at Rochester Mayo Thursday while the Scarlets (0-1) are at Austin.

East vs West