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Nevis softball team showed steady improvement

The Tigers played well down the stretch to finish with a 4-10 overall record.

MaggieCarrier.JPG
Maggie Carrier received Upper Mississippi Conference honors after batting .500 with 17 runs scored and 15 RBI and going 4-8 in 12 pitching appearances for the Tigers this spring. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

For head coach Michael Weerts, seeing a young Nevis fastpitch softball team show steady improvement resulted in a successful season.

The Tigers finished with a 4-10 overall record, but ended the regular season on a high note by winning three straight games. That year of experience should pay dividends in the future.

“We knew that we were going to be young with little experience at the varsity level and that we would have our struggles, but our defense and knowledge of the game improved throughout the season,” said Weerts. “Our goal was to improve with each game and learn from our mistakes and we did that. We still have a lot of work to do, but we have the same team coming back next year, so we are excited to see continued improvement from year to year.”

After opening the season with a 22-4 win over Red Lake, the Tigers went on a nine-game losing streak as Blackduck (20-3), Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (6-3 and 10-6), Pine River-Backus (12-2 and 14-7), Menahga (20-1), Sebeka (15-0) and Kelliher-Northome (16-4 and 23-5) combined for a 136-32 advantage in runs. Nevis closed out the regular season with wins over Cass Lake-Bena (17-6), Red Lake (7-4) and Bagley (19-9). The Tigers finished with a 3-5 record in Upper Mississippi Conference play as W-H-A won the conference title with an 8-1 record.

The Tigers received the No. 5 seed in the West for the Section 5A playoffs and were eliminated with a 12-2 loss to No. 4 Pine River-Backus. Sebeka, the No. 1 seed in the West, defeated Bertha-Hewitt/Verndale, the No. 2 seed in the East, 10-0 in the section championship game to advance to the state Class A tournament.

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“We improved defensively and were more aggressive on the base paths,” said Weerts. “The players started to take better at bats and were more aware of what to do in certain situations. This will improve as they play more games during the summer and as we get to play more games next year.”

Leading the Tigers this season were Maggie Carrier, Molly Lindow and Maddy Brakke. Carrier and Lindow received Upper Mississippi Conference honors while Brakke was an all-conference honorable mention selection. Those three played in every game this season.

Also playing key roles for the Tigers this season were Lyra Luebbert, Olivia Harris, Paradise Johnson, Eva Warrington, Caitlyn Stute, Anabelle Bolster, Paris Munn, Kayli Bessler, Sonja Habedank, Cassie Rice, Emily Funk, Ella DeWitt, Mackenzie Mitchell and Neveah Hollingsworth.

Carrier handled the majority of the pitching duties this season, going 4-8 while allowing 130 runs (90 earned) on 120 hits and 55 walks while striking out 45 in 57 innings. Carrier also hit .500 (20 for 40, including two doubles, four triples and one home run) with 17 runs scored and a team-leading 15 RBI. Lindow was the Tigers’ starting catcher who hit .438 (12 for 32, including four doubles) with 14 runs and 10 RBI while Brakke batted .486 (13 for 37, including one double and two triples) with a team-leading 18 runs and five RBI.

Luebbert and Harris also played in every game with Luebbert batting .291 (10 for 29 - including one double, one triple and one home run - with eight runs and five RBI) and Harris hitting .182 (4 for 22, including one triple, with 10 runs). Bessler batted .500 (5 for 10 with three runs and two RBI), Bolster hit .500 (5 for 10 with five runs), Johnson batted .461 (12 for 26 with seven runs and seven RBI) and Warrington had a .363 average (3 for 11 with four runs). Also contributing offensively this spring were Funk (6 for 11), Mitchell (1 for 4), DeWitt (1 for 6), Rice (1 for 6), Habedank (1 for 7), Munn (1 for 9), Stute (1 for 11) and Hollingsworth (0 for 2).

“It was a challenging season because of COVID quarantines and we really didn't know who was going to be pulled out of school and not be at practice or be there for a game on a daily basis. We had to pull junior high players up on a moment's notice to fill positions and they stepped up in a huge way,” said Weerts. “Maggie, Molly and Maddy showed strong leadership during the season and helped out the younger girls adjust to playing at the varsity level. Kayli was a nice addition to the team late in the season. Cassie and Ella had a cup of coffee at the varsity level to help us field nine for a couple of games and Olivia, Eva and Anabelle started the season at the junior high level and were starters at the end of the season and really helped us out. We struggled in the beginning of the season, but ended the season with a three-game winning streak and improved immensely on defense and playing together as a team.”

Weerts is looking forward to next season as the Tigers return their entire starting lineup.

“We will be more competitive in games next year. Our defense will be better and we have a better concept of the game,” said Weerts. “Our younger players saw what a varsity pitcher looks like and will have more confidence at the plate. We will continue to build together as a team and we will show improvements. The girls will continue to work hard and we are looking forward to getting back out on the field next year with this same group of girls.”

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Nevis statistics
Hitting: Funk .545 (6 for 11), Carrier .500 (20 for 40), Bessler .500 (5 for 10), Bolster .500 (5 for 10), Brakke .486 (13 for 37), Johnson .461 (12 for 26), Lindow .438 (12 for 32), Warrington .363 (3 for 11), Luebbert .291 (10 for 29), Mitchell .250 (1 for 4), Harris .182 (4 for 22), DeWitt .167 (1 for 6), Rice .167 (1 for 6), Habedank .143 (1 for 7), Munn .111 (1 for 9), Stute 0.90 (1 for 11), Hollingsworth .000 (0 for 2).
2B: Lindow 4, Carrier 2, Funk 2, Bessler 2, Brakke 1, Luebbert 1, Johnson 1, Mitchell 1, Munn 1.
3B: Carrier 4, Brakke 2, Funk 1, Luebbert 1, Harris 1, Johnson 1, Bolster 1.
HR: Carrier 1, Luebbert 1.
Runs: Brakke 18, Carrier 17, Lindow 14, Harris 10, Luebbert 8, Johnson 7, Bolster 5, Warrington 4, Funk 3, Habedank 3, Bessler 3, Hollingsworth 2, Stute 1, Munn 1.
RBI: Carrier 15, Lindow 10, Johnson 7, Brakke 5, Luebbert 5, Habedank 2, Bessler 2, Funk 1, Bolster 1.
Pitching: Carrier 4-8 (57 IP, 120 H, 130 R, 90 ER, 55 BB, 45 K, 4 HBP, 14.21 ERA); Johnson 0-1 (5 IP, 12 H, 23 R, 16 ER, 6 BB, 2 K, 28.80 ERA).

1982 Dawson-Boyd High School graduate
1987 Moorhead State University graduate
Sports reporter for Park Rapids Enterprise since 1987
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