Delano baseball and softball teams head in different directions

Muchenhirn no-hits Litchfield to send Tigers to title game



Both Delano’s baseball and softball teams hoped to turn excellent regular seasons into trips to state tournaments. However, the teams went in separate directions.

The baseball team continued to roll, winning three straight at the Section 5AA tournament, advancing to the title game at 5 p.m. Thursday, June 6 at Delano. The unbeaten Tigers need one more win in the double-elimination event. A Delano loss would force a second title game immediately after the first one.

Senior Zach Muchenhirn pitched a no-hitter in Delano’s 4-0 victory over Litchfield in the battle of sub-section champions. Coach Dan Paulson said timely hitting led to three runs scored in the third inning in what he calls a great team effort.

Meanwhile, the girls finished at 17-5 after losing 6-5 to Becker in the semifinals of the section tourney to end a great season. After going 13-3 in the regular season to earn the top sub-section seed, Delano lost 9-4 to eventual champ Rockford. After a win over Annandale, the Tigers fell short against Becker. In the four other section games, Delano outscored opponents 51-4.

“We are definitely going to miss this group of seniors, not only for their softball talent, but who they are as people,” said coach Teresa Spurzem. “I think they have done a great job teaching those younger girls what it takes to be successful on and off the field. I look forward to what next year will bring.”

The senior leaders include Katie Emmer, Savannah Bettin, Mackenzie Maxwell, Sam Noetzelman, Ana Wischmann, Katie Vatnsdal, Amanda Hanson, Christy Jordan, Rayna Ekman and Sam McDonald.

Last week Delano rebounded from the loss to Rockford by defeating Annandale 12-2, slamming out 14 hits. Katy Kalleberg was 3 for 3 with a home run and 4 RBIs. Maxwell and Vatnsdal both went 2 for 3 with a double and 3 RBIs. Maggie Rizor was 2 for 3 with a double and homer. Bettin and Kelsey Delisle both had two hits. Pitcher Makenna Giese worked six innings, allowing three hits.

“In the Becker game, we started off strong by scoring four runs right away,” recalls Spurzem. “Then they scored a couple runs in three different innings. We had an opportunity in the seventh, but just couldn’t execute.”

Emmer was 3 for 3 and Maxwell went 2 for 3 to pace the offense. Giese allowed nine hits in five innings. Vatnsdal worked the sixth and was 3 for 3 in stolen base attempts.

Emmer was named to play in the 25th Annual Minnesota High School All-Star Girls Softball Series Sunday, June 9 in North Mankato. Game times are at 11:30 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.

The Tiger baseball team improved to 16-2 and is on an 11-game winning streak after topping Litchfield Monday. The top section seed earned a bye in the first round before rolling over Mound-Westonka 11-1 last week. Next came a 12-9 slugfest victory over Providence Academy in the sub-section title game.

Against MW, Hunter Hart was 2 for 4 with a double and 4 RBIs. Toby Hanson was 3 for 3 with two doubles. Jon Dahl added two hits and Noah Stone drove in two runs. Muchenhirn allowed pitched six innings, yielding six hits.

Both Delano and Providence Academy had 13 hits. Muchenhirn powered the offense by going 3 for 4 and driving home five runs. Hanson was 2 for 3 with 4 RBIs and a triple. Stone and Adam Schleper both had two hits, while runs were knocked home by Dahl, Hart, Christian Triplett and Justin Oja.

Coach Paulson was impressed with how almost every player had at least one hit, played solid defense and pitchers had opponents putting the ball in play.

Against Litchfield, Dahl, Hanson and Oja each had two hits, with one each by Triplett, Stone and Brett Norling.

After 17 games Hanson is batting .560 with 28 hits and 30 RBIs. The .400 hitters are Dahl at .411 and Schleper at .404. Other hitting leaders are Stone .400, Muchenhirn .389, Hart .370 and Triplett .315.

Before Monday, Muchenhirn has pitched 28.2 innings, posting a 1.47 earned run average with 30 strikeouts and just seven walks. Schleper has worked 24 innings and has a 2.92 ERA.

One more win would send Delano to its fourth straight state tournament. The first two rounds are in St. Cloud June 13-14. The title game is 1 p.m. June 17 at Target Field.