Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Shawn Bode
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Rebels 12U team state champions


August 10, 2017

Shawn Bode

Pictured: front Mackenzie Hoffmann, Maki Kukuk. Back: coach Troy Hoffmann, Marissa Seals, Sandra Ribich, Mendota Castongauy, head coach Kelly Goeb, Hallie Klavu, Sarah Christy, Lyndee Mlaskoch, Natalie Mikrot, Alexis Hoffmann, coach Shawn Bode, Janna Bode.

A 12U Moose Lake/Willow River Rebels softball team handily conquered all their opponents in the Minnesota-South state tournament. After an undefeated season in the Arrowhead (Northeast MN region) League, the Rebels decided to venture out of the area and see how they fared against non-local teams. The tournament was held in Austin over the August 5 weekend.

In two pool play games, the young Rebels won the contests by the 15 run mercy rule after three innings: 22-0 and 16-1. That secured a spot in the gold division for bracketed play and a chance at a state title. In the semi-final game, Kasson-Mantorville, a traditional softball power, was disposed of easily 12-0 in four innings by the Rebels.

The championship game pitted the local nine against an Albert Lea team that, with a good pitcher, had also been dominating their opponents to that point. Sarah Christy got the nod in the circle for the Rebels and struck out the first six batters she faced. The Rebels' first three batters, Maci Kukuk, Janna Bode and Natalie Mikrot, all singled and each stole second and eventually scored, giving the Rebels a quick 3-0 one inning lead.

Sandra Ribich and Marissa Seals singled and scored in the second on RBIs by Hallie Klavu and Kukuk. The 5-0 lead was slightly threatened in the top of the third when the Tigers' leadoff hitter bunted for a single, giving the opponents a little life with their first baserunner. However, you could hear that life being sucked out of the Tigers' cautiously enthusiastic dugout when two pitches later, catcher Mikrot fired a bullet to second, catching the speediest Tiger trying to steal second base. The inning ended with a Seals diving catch coming in from center and harmlessly colliding into second baseman Lyndee Mlaskoch.

The Rebels chipped away for three more in the third, taking an 8-0 lead.

The bottom of the fourth started with a Mackenzie Hoffman slap single and steal of second. The Tigers would not retire a batter in the inning, as Kukuk followed with an RBI triple over the centerfielder's head. Bode, a lefty hitting slapper, then lined an RBI single to center. Mikrot singled hard to left, then clean up hitter Mlaskoch mashed another RBI single putting the Rebels up 11-0. Mendota Castonguay figured it was time to put an end to this onslaught as she hit her second home run of the tourney, this one a three run clout, giving the Rebels a 14-0 mercy rule win in four innings and a state championship.

Overall, the Rebels' pitching was outstanding, led by lefty fireballer Sarah Christy, who was nicknamed "the pitching machine" by one of the veteran umps. Christy threw 10 innings without allowing a run, only allowing one hit (a bunt single), and garnering 24 strikeouts to just one walk. Alexis Hoffman was also outstanding in the circle as she fired three innings of one hit ball, allowing a single run with seven Ks to three base on balls. Ribich also hurled an inning, which was scoreless and hitless. The Rebels defense was tight when opponent bats managed to make contact, as they did not commit an error in four games, and catcher Mikrot (with also a few innings chipped in behind the dish by Kukuk and Seals) did not allow a passed ball.

All 11 Rebels had at least two hits in the tourney. This (two) matched the number of hits total the Rebels allowed in the tourney's four games. A Kasson-Mantorville coach remarked, "They don't have a weak spot in the order or in the field."

Rebels hitters for the tourney: Kukuk (SS) 7-8 with four steals, eight runs scored and seven RBI; Bode (3B/CF) 7-10 with four steals, seven runs, five RBI; Mikrot (C) 6-10 with six runs; Mlaskoch (2B/OF) 3-6, seven runs; Castongauy (2B/OF) 4-6, two HR, eight runs, eight RBI; Christy (P/1B) 4-8, five runs, five RBI; A. Hoffmann (1B/P) 2-5, six runs; Ribich (LF/1B) 5-8, five runs; Seals (3B/OF/C) 2-3, a triple, five walks and two HBP; Klavu (OF/SS) 4-7, four RBI; M. Hoffmann (OF/2B) 3-7.


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