Girls fastpitch finishes third in state
Front: Morgan Prachar. Middle row l to r: Laura Alberg, Suzy Grutkoski, Becca Wright, Ashley Grutkoski. Back row l to r: Ashley Kliniski, Ally Bode, Maddi Milczark, Nicole Newham, Laura Walker, Kayla Behrman.
After a successful regular season where the undefeated 14U Moose Lake/ Willow River Dairy Queen Blizzards finished atop the Lake Superior League at 13-0-1, they headed to the ASA class D state tournament in Buffalo.
The first game was a cruise-control 13-5 victory over Kimball.
The second game was against the team the 14U Blizzards beat in last year’s state championship: Lester Prairie. The Blizzards were down 2-1 through 2 innings, but then the first 8 hitters of the line-up reached and scored in the 3rd for the Blizzards, who ended up with an 11-5 victory.
Pitcher Ally Bode and shortstop Suzy Grutkoski had 2 hits each for the second straight game. Catcher Morgan Prachar garnered 3 hits in this contest.
Game 3 was the Blizzards first loss in this double elimination tourney, to the eventual state champion, Dilworth-GF 14-3.
Game 4 was again vs. Kimball, and the Blizzards regained their fire with another convincing win, 9-4. Bode had 3 more hits and second baseman Laura Walker doubled, tripled, and had 2 RBIs in this contest. The field of 16 teams had now been cut to 4, with the MLWR Blizzards still standing.
Dassel-Cokato was the Blizzards next foe and victim, as the local nine scored 5 runs in each of the first 2 innings en route to a convincing 14-3 finish. Prachar and centerfielder Ashley Kliniski each drove in 3 runs, while first baseman Nicole Newham and Grutkoski each scored 3.
As the field was now down to three teams, the Blizzards met Detroit Lakes. This was a pitcher’s duel with the game knotted at 1 through 5 innings. D-Lakes finally came through with a few hits and an error to spark them to a 4-1 lead after 6.
In their final and 7th inning the Blizzards fought back with 2 outs: Ashley Grutkoski was hit by a pitch. Kayla Behrman pinch ran and stole second. Rightfielder Laura Alberg reached on a past-ball strikeout. Bode singled for her second hit of the game, plating Behrman and making it 4-2. Prachar, who had doubled and scored in the first, hit a sharp ball up the middle that was snared on a hop by the opposing shortstop who forced Bode at second to end the game, DL winning 4-2.
The Blizzards were presented with the 3rd place plaque and medals after the game.
Ally Bode pitched 30 innings in all with 29 K/ 14 BB ratio while Laura Walker hurled the other 2 innings. Morgan Prachar caught every inning of all 6 games over 2 days halting opposing would-be basestealers with an accurate strong arm.
Top tourney hitters for the Rebels, in order in the line-up, were Bode at 10-21, .476 avg, 3 doubles, 1 triple; Prachar 8-21 with 9 runs, 6 doubles, 4 steals; Nicole Newham 6-16 with 3 doubles, 1 triple; Suzy Grutkoski 6-14, 9 runs, 5 RBI, .579 OBP; third baseman Becca Wright 5-18; Walker 5-14 with 3 doubles, 1 triple, 6 RBI; Ashley Kliniski 5-18, 5 RBI.
The team was coached by Kelly Goeb and assisted by Shawn Bode.
Maddi Milczark served as team manager in the state tourney in which she was unable to play, but was a key hitter and shortstop during the regular season.