by Bob SAn
SUN PRESS Newspapers
Last season, the Maple Grove Crimson won the conference softball title with an 11-0 record and went to the state tournament where they finished fourth. With many top players returning, coach Jim Koltes and his players are looking forward to continuing the program’s winning tradition.
“We have a lot of players with varsity experience and playing in big games,” said Koltes. “This should help us as we compete in the conference and the section this year.”
Anchoring the team is the pitcher/catcher tandem of junior Sydney Smith and senior Jordan Mauch. As a sophomore last season, Smith posted a 19-2 record with a 0.52 ERA and hit .532. She made first team all-state and was on the all conference and all metro teams. She is committed to pitch for Louisiana State University.
“Sydney has the potential to be the metro player of the year with another solid season,” Koltes said.
Mauch, who has received a scholarship to play at Minnesota State University-Mankato next fall, is an outstanding catcher and hitter. She was second team all-state and first team all metro and all conference as a junior.
“Jordan is one of the best catchers in the state,” Koltes said. “She should be first team this year.”
Smith and Mauch are joined by several talented returning players.
Senior Josie Rouhl joins Mauch and Smith as the team’s captains. She plays second and outfield. “Josie played varsity last year and helped us in many ways and was voted a captain this year,” Koltes said. “She is primed for a big year.”
Senior Sarah Southorn plays first, third and can pitch. “Sarah had nine home runs last year, hit the ball hard and has surprising speed,” Koltes said. “A number of D3 schools have talked to her.”
Junior Sammi Sadler gives Crimson a solid center fielder and pitcher. “She started in right field last year and batted number two,” Koltes said. “This year she will move to lead off. She has a very strong arm and covers ground. She is a solid pitcher as well. Sounds like she will follow her sister Cayli to Duluth on a softball scholarship.”
Junior Madison Gordan returns to patrol right field. “She has tremendous speed and range and she can slap hit and hit away,” Koltes said.
Junior Sarah Michal will play third base and outfield. “Sarah is a solid player and does a number of things correctly to help a team,” Koltes said. “She has above average bat and speed.”
Junior Taylor Meyer will play third, short and outfield. “Taylor can start at any of the infield spots,” Koltes said. “She has shown some pop in her bat.”
Junior Shannon McMurphy will play short stop. “Shannon has great range, arm strength and speed at short,” Koltes said. “She will be solid in that spot this season.”
Newcomers who will see varsity action include: juniors Amy Zook (third base/outfield), Hannah Lund (catcher), Alyssa Mickelson (outfield/infield), Kea Anderson (outfield/infield), Megan Mulchrone (first base, outfield, pitcher), and senior Sydney Sanford (outfield/pitcher).
With talent, experience and depth, Koltes and the Crimson are hoping to improve on last year’s 19-2 overall record.
“We should compete for the conference title and the section title again,” Koltes said. “In the section there are many solid teams including Champlin Park, Rogers, Centennial, Totino Grace, Blaine, Coon Rapids, to name just a few.”
In the conference, the Crimson will have to contend with defending state champion Elk River.
The Crimson are very talented and will be one of the top teams in the state. But Koltes points out that there are other talented teams and the Crimson must work hard and stay focused.
“We just really need to work towards consistency game in and game out,” Koltes said. “The toughest part for us is playing through long stretches of games keeping our focus on one game at a time.”
Contact Bob San at email@example.com