Menahga’s Alyssa Peterson, Rena Pinoniemi and Jessica Pietila were among players earning Park Region Conference fastpitch softball honors this spring.
Peterson and Pinoniemi received all-conference honors while Pietila was an all-conference honorable mention player.
Those three players led the Braves to a share of fifth place in the conference standings with a 5-9 record this season. New York Mills won the Park Region title with a 14-0 record while Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale (10-4), Sebeka (9-5) and Parkers Prairie (7-7) followed. Wadena-Deer Creek also finished at 5-9 with Pillager (4-10) and Ottertail Central (2-12) rounding out the conference standings.
Menahga, which averaged 5.4 runs a game while allowing 7.9 runs a game, posted an 8-12 overall record.
The Braves opened the season with conference losses to Sebeka (15-0 in four innings and 12-0 in five innings), New York Mills (14-1 in five innings and 16-0 in four innings), and Parkers Prairie (11-1 and 12-11).
That six-game losing streak ended with a 15-4 win over Nevis and a 14-4 victory in six innings over Ottertail Central, which salvaged a conference split with a 6-3 win in the second game. Menahga also split conference doubleheaders with Pillager (winning 5-4 and losing 9-3) and Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale (winning 8-7 and losing 8-4) before sweeping a Park Region doubleheader against Wadena-Deer Creek by scores of 15-2 in five innings and 7-4.
Pine River-Backus (11-1 in five innings) and Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (11-5) defeated the Braves to close out the regular season.
Going 3-4 against Section 5A opponents gave Menahga the No. 3 seed in the West for the playoffs. The Braves defeated No. 6 Nevis 2-1 before being eliminated from the section tournament with losses to No. 2 Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale (8-3) and No. 4 Pine River-Backus (5-3). Isle (the No. 1 seed in the East) defeated Hinckley-Finlayson (the No. 3 seed in the East) 8-1 in the Section 5A championship game.
“The season went well. It started out a little rough playing two teams (Sebeka and New York Mills) that were at state last year right off the bat, plus we were missing some of our starters,” said Menahga head coach Lindsey White. “It was a building year. We were pretty young, but improved immensely throughout the season and gained a lot more confidence and experience.”
Rounding out the Braves’ roster this season were seniors Jamie Erno, Aimee Lake and Madi Marjamaa; sophomores Jadeyn Dissmore and Rachel Marjamaa; freshmen Amanda Lake, Lela Peterson, Allie Pfeifer and Maryn Pinoniemi; and seventh grader Alli Anderson.
“My seniors brought a ton of experience and knowledge of the game to our team. With a young team, my seniors really helped my younger girls during games, helping make sure they knew where to go on plays or where to cover and being encouraging. Their dedication to our softball program throughout their careers will be missed as well as their leadership,” said White. “My expectations for my underclassmen are to continue to build on the experience they got this year and to gain some more confidence, especially at the plate. We will focus a lot on hitting. We have a ton of speed, but we need to get that speed on base to do some damage.”