Softball: Nevis showed improvement during 8-9 season
The Tigers finished fourth in the Upper Mississippi Conference standings.
NEVIS – Head coach Michael Weerts saw major improvement from the Nevis fastpitch softball team this season.
After going 4-10 last season, the Tigers finished 5-5 for fourth place in the Upper Mississippi Conference standings en route to an 8-9 overall record.
“We went 8-8 in the regular season and the players showed improvement throughout the season,” said Weerts. “We were young and are still learning the game. We continued to make little mistakes throughout the games, but those weren't as prevalent as the season progressed.”
The Tigers opened the season with a 3-1 record by defeating Laporte 18-0, losing to Blackduck 7-4, and defeating Blackduck 6-5 and Laporte 8-7. A four-game losing streak followed as Nevis fell to Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (18-2 and 12-6), Hill City/Northland (15-0) and Deer River (15-8).
Wins over Cromwell-Wright (9-8) and Cass Lake-Bena (14-6 and 19-3) were followed by a 14-0 loss to Aitkin, an 18-7 victory over Bagley, and a pair of losses to Pine River-Backus (22-8 and 15-12). The Tigers ended the regular season with a 15-8 win over Lake of the Woods.
W-H-A won the conference title with an 8-0 record while Kelliher-Northome went 6-1 and PR-B finished at 7-3. Trailing the Tigers were Blackduck (3-4), Red Lake (1-2), Laporte (1-8) and CL-B (1-9).
For the Section 5A tournament, the Tigers received the No. 5 seed in the West and were eliminated with a 17-10 loss to No. 4 PR-B.
Nevis averaged 9.2 runs a game while allowing an average of 10.5 runs a game. The Tigers had a .347 team batting average and a 6.85 team ERA.
“It took some time to transition from the gym to the field. You have to deal with different elements with the wind, sun and field conditions that you can't emulate in the gym,” said Weerts. “It did bring new energy when we finally got outside and the girls worked hard to be prepared for the games.”
Leading the Tigers this season were seniors Maddy Brakke and Maggie Carrier; junior Molly Lindow; sophomore Lyra Luebbert; freshman Annabelle Bolster; and eighth graders Olivia Harris and Peyton Offerdahl. Carrier, Lindow and Bolster received all-conference honors while Brakke and Harris were all-conference honorable mention players.
Carrier played in all 17 games and was named the Tigers’ MVP after hitting .487 (20-41) and going 4-5 with a 5.21 ERA this season. Carrier allowed 108 runs (41 earned) on 64 hits and 50 walks while striking out 56 in 55 ⅓ innings.
Lindow also started all 17 games and earned the team’s Gold Glove Award as the starting catcher after batting .352 (18-51).
Bolster received the team’s Slugger Award after hitting .428 (18-42) as the starter in center field in 14 games.
Brakke batted .285 (12-42) as the Tigers’ starter at third base in 16 games.
Harris started at shortstop in all 17 games and hit .340 (15-44).
Offerdahl played in 16 games and was named Rookie of the Year after hitting .378 (14-37) as a right fielder and going 4-4 with a 9.55 ERA on the mound. In 35 ⅔ innings, Offerdahl gave up 69 runs (48 earned) on 50 hits and 24 walks with 24 strikeouts.
Luebbert batted .348 (15-43) and started in left field in 15 games.
Also seeing varsity time were Paradise Johnson (6 for 18 in seven games), Caitlyn Stute (4 for 8 in eight games), Neveah Hollingsworth (7 for 33 in 15 games), Maria Gutierrez (4 for 21 in 17 games), Keira Dilworth (4 for 12 in eight games) and Kristine Koebnick (3 for 12 in eight games). Gutierrez was named the team’s Most Improved Player.
“We had two pitchers this season, so that helped take pressure off of Maggie,” said Weerts. “This was key as we had a lot of games in a short amount of days. This would give Maggie a break and Peyton did a great job coming in and pitching for us as an eighth grader.”
The Tigers will have to replace Carrier and Brakke in the starting lineup, but Weerts sees a bright future for Nevis softball.
“We will lose Maddy and Maggie. Those two have been part of the program since their elementary days. They missed their sophomore season (because of COVID), had a scattered junior season with games being canceled at a moment's notice because of COVID protocols, and had a weather-shortened senior season. Throughout it all, they helped the younger players and had a great attitude during all the chaos and will be missed next season,” said Weerts. “I feel the program is moving the right direction. We will have Molly and Paradise return as seniors and will fit in nicely with a solid group of younger players. Peyton will only get stronger as a pitcher and having varsity experience as an eighth grader will show next season. If they can have solid pitching and fielding, the Tigers will be a solid team for years to come. There will be a strong group of freshmen coming in next year that will see a lot of playing time. These girls are also playing summer ball, and that is where teams improve. The more we can get them playing in the offseason, the better they will be and it will show next spring. If this group of girls stays together and continues to play, Tigers fans will have some fun seasons to look forward to in the near future.”