Tiger softball team loves to play
The Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta varsity softball team finished the 2012 season third in Section 3AA after a 14-3 regular season and a second straight West Central Conference South championship title.
The Tigers also earned a silver rating in academics from the Minnesota Fastpitch Coaches' Association.
"We got out to a fast start, going 5-0," said coach Mary Holmberg.
The Tigers' first loss was to Yellow Medicine East.
"That was kind of a little wake up call for us," said Holmberg. "That loss made us better."
Another turning point in Holmberg's eyes was winning by the 10-run rule at Paynesville.
The Tigers other regular-season losses came in non-conference action against Minnewaska and Ottertail Central.
"We lost those two games back to back," explained Holmberg.
Then the Tigers "handily" took care of Yellow Medicine East in a rematch for the conference title.
The Tigers went 3-2 in the section tournament, taking third place in 3AA.
Only two starters from last season, Jaimie Bergerson and Sadie Fischer, were back on the roster in 2012.
"We were young, but Mary Asche prepares the JV team well for varsity play," explained Holmberg.
"We played as a team with everyone accepting their roles," added Holmberg. "They gave 100 percent effort by all."
Holmberg credits pitching as one key to the team's success. McKenzie Van Batavia started every game.
"McKenzie was always mentally prepared," said Holmberg.
Brianna Abril was called up in relief of Van Batavia.
"If McKenzie got in trouble, we always know we could count on Brianna."
A pair of Brookes, Johnson and Wente, filled the position of catcher.
"Johnson communicated well and kept everyone focused," added Holmberg. "Wente was always willing to help. She had a great attitude."
Another key factor in the Tigers' success was hitting, where they recorded a .270 average.
Tracy Meichsner led the Tigers in hitting with .405, and also led in RBIs, triples, and home runs.
"There weren't many game that Tracy didn't get a hit," explained Holmberg. "She has a lot of power."
Sadie Fischer had a .386 average and led in doubles.
Holly Amundson had a .309 average.
"Holly became very consistent and was an important hitter for us."
Other hitting leaders were Johnson with a .271, along with Steph Hennen and Van Batavia in the 260s.
Nicole Strobel came on strong as the season progressed with a .245 average.
"Her speed was also beneficial."
Holmberg also credits the team's base-running speed for the Tigers' success.
Megan Mecklenburg and Cassidy Vail filled important roles as courtesy runners.
"Megan's hustle meant she would be ready to take any base," said Holmberg. "Cassidy was vital to a lot of our victories."
Other courtesy runners were Chelsey Ehleringer and Megan Gillespie.
"Chelsey's quickness provided another threat offensively," added Holmberg.
Katelyn Vogt helped out as a pinch runner.
Meichsner led the team in stolen bases. "She wasn't afraid to take an extra base."
On the defensive side, the Tigers only committed 40 errors throughout the season.
"Our fielding was strong," said Holmberg. "We averaged less than two errors per game."
Olivia Reimers did a lot of fielding at third base.
"Olivia did a great job handling bunts."
Jaimie Bergerson was an anchor at first base for three seasons.
"We took advantage of Bergie's stretch at first," said Holmberg. "Her glove at first has been very consistent."
Amundson covered second base.
"Holly played solid at second," added Holmberg. "Her bunt coverage was exceptional."
Fischer played short stop.
"Sadie handled throw downs from the catcher well," said Holmberg. "She fields the ball well and her throw to third is very quick."
Holmberg believes Van Batavia is one of the best fielding pitchers in the conference.
Meichsner was in right field and Strobel in center field. Steph Hennen, Wente, and Vail shared left field, along with Tracy Kleindl and Katelyn Vogt.
"Our outfield play was solid this year."
Abbie Olson also helped the team during tournaments, while Tori Fuhrman served as team manager.
"Abbie is very versatile at catcher and first base.
"Kleindl, Vogt, Olson, Gillespie, Ehleringer, and Abril all contributed on the 17-0 JV team this year," said Holmberg. "They were always positive and supportive members of the varsity team."
In her 32nd season of coaching softball, Holmberg gives a lot of credit to her staff.
"It all starts with Sharon Martin at the junior high level," explained Holmberg. "Staci Richards provides consistency.
"Heidi (Hoffmann) Greene brings experience playing at Minnewaska," Holmberg added. "Mary Asche does a great job breaking down drills.
Tammy Schuester is the volunteer score keeper.
"Tammy gives credibility to the teams's stats."
"We had excellent leadership from our seniors, Jaimie Bergerson, Holly Amundson, Olivia Reimers, Cassidy Vail, and Megan Mecklenburg," concluded Holmberg. "They love to play."