by Bob San
Sun Press Newspapers
Maple Grove took an early lead on a three-run home run and relied on strong pitching and defense to defeat Osseo 4-2 in the annual Osseo-Maple Grove Softball Extravaganza last Friday at Maple Grove Middle School.
The event celebrates softball and the community and honors the seniors on both teams. The two district rivals faced off under perfect weather conditions and the large crowd, many wearing pink to support breast cancer awareness, was treated to a hotly-contested game.
Prior to the first pitch, the seniors were recognized along with their parents. Osseo seniors are Amanda Fasching, April Jacobs, Katie Johnson, Taylor Kottke, Andrea Dienslake, Laine Ruska, Anna Zeltinger and Jenna Kulla.
Maple Grove seniors are Sydney Cashman, Taylor Rosacker, Erin Roehl, Eleanor Schutte and Taylor Wente.
The game was scoreless after two innings and Maple Grove broke through in the top of the third. Sophomore Jade Tomashek doubled and junior Marie Pallansch laid down a bunt single to put two on and no out against Osseo starter Katie Johnson. Up came sophomore Ava Dueck, who sent a towering drive beyond the center field fence for a three-run homer. Johnson stopped the bleeding but the damage was done as the Crimson grabbed a commanding 3-0 lead.
Osseo had chances to score against MG junior pitcher Lauren Anderson in subsequent innings but could not convert. Two Orioles reached base in the third but both were thrown out by MG sophomore catcher Sophie Culhane at second base. In the fourth, Osseo loaded the bases with one out but Anderson got a strikeout and a pop out to snuff out the Osseo uprising.
Maple Grove played small ball to pad its lead in the fifth. Dueck led off with a booming double to deep right center, Wente moved the runner to third on a ground out and Schutte’s RBI ground out made it 4-0.
Anderson stranded another Osseo runner at third base in the fifth inning and her night was done. Dueck came on to pitch the sixth and seventh innings. She allowed two Orioles to reach in the sixth but struck out the side.
Osseo finally broke through in the seventh when Kottke and Hannah Carmon singled and Kottke scored on a throwing error. A ground out by Dienslake made it 4-2. Ruska added more suspense as she singled with two outs to put the tying run at the plate but Dueck got her fifth strikeout to end the game.
“I thought it played out like most MG and Osseo games — they are always close and evenly played,” Crimson coach Jim Koltes said. “It is such a good rivalry.”
Dueck was the player of the game as she went three for three with a home run, drove in three runs, scored two runs and had five strikeouts in two innings to earn the save.
“Ava had a great night at the plate,” Koltes said. “Lauren Anderson was sharp on the mound in getting the win. She seemed in control all night and had solid defense behind her. Jade Tomashek had a nice night at the plate and at second base with a solid game as well as a double and Erin Roehl had a double and a solid night at SS.”
Osseo out hit Maple Grove nine to eight. Ruska, who earlier in the week hit a walk-off home run in the 7-6 win over Armstrong, went three for four and scored one run, Kottke and Jones both had two hits. Carmon and Johnson each had one. Johnson pitched well but was the tough-luck loser. She gave up eight hits and two walks and struck out three.
The 6-9 Orioles end the regular season at Elk River Friday, May 19.
The 11-7 Crimson next host Anoka Thursday, May 18, and visit Eden Prairie Friday, May 19.
Contact Bob San at firstname.lastname@example.org