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Tigers find the positive in 19-7 season

(From left) Brooke Johnson, Lauren Reimers, Becca Holland, Kayla Pring, and Nicole Strobel received all-conference honors by the West Central Conference coaches this softball season. (Nancy Olson / Sun Tribune)1 / 2
Head coach Mary Holmberg hands out a special award every year to those home run hitters. Each home run hit is a game ball. Pictured is Lauren Reimers (left) holding her box of 11 home run balls and Kayla Pring (right) holds her three home run ball hit this season. (Nancy Olson / Sun Tribune)2 / 2

As the seasons change, sporting seasons come to an end. Though the conclusion of the Morris Area/ Chokio-Alberta softball season was a bit sour, a 6-1 loss to Pipestone to go to the Section 3AA finals, there was still a lot of success during the Tigers 19-7 season.

First off, a 19-7 record is a winning record in and of itself. Also head coach Mary Holmberg got her 500th career win very early on in the season, ending the season with 514 wins. The Tigers won the West Central Conference title for the 11th time in the programs entirety and also took third in Section 3AA tournament.

“I’ve been blessed with very good athletes,” coach Holmberg said at the Spring Sports Banquet on Monday, June 2. “I’ve been blessed with good coaches and parents who are willing to help out... You don’t do anything by yourself, ever, so I’m very appreciative.”

The Tigers were West Central Conference champions this year, beating everyone in the conference both North and South. MA/C-A lost just two games in the WCC, one to Minnewaska and one to Montevideo, to finish with a 11-2 record, a game ahead of Minnewaska to claim the title for the 11th time in the programs history.

The Tigers were third in their section behind Section 3AA Champion New Ulm and runner up Pipestone. The Tigers were 4-2 in postseason play, losing to a very good pitcher from Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop in the second game and then Pipestone to end their season.

“Our kids were really focused this year,” Holmberg said. Making it through two prom nights (Morris Area and Chokio-Alberta) and then to win the following Monday is a big accomplishment for the Tiger girls this season Holmberg said with a chuckle.

The Tigers had 17 girls on the varsity team this year and six of them were, what Holmberg mentioned are, “a strong core group” of senior leadership.

Senior outfielder Abbie Olson batted a .435 before getting injured at the Minnewaska game midseason. Coach Holmberg said that Abbie was a valuable player to the team this season.

Center fielder Nicole Strobel had 29 catches in center and two assists this season. Holmberg also added that her speed on the bases helped get the Tigers into scoring position, stealing near 10 times in the duration of the season.

Catcher Brooke Johnson threw out 24 runners at second base, which has not been done in a very long time Holmberg added. Johnson also batted a .277 for the Tigers.

Pitcher Brianna Abril had 52 putouts and 11 assists, pitching 23 innings. Brianna batted a .281 before pulling her hamstring and literally crawling home in the 7-5 win over Paynesville.

Chelsey Ehleringer had 39 assists and 48 putouts at second base and batted .219 at the plate. Left fielder and slap hitter Megan Gillespie batted a .182 and scored 10 runs for the Tigers this season.

Abbie, Nicole, Chelsey, and Megan also received All State Academic honors (GPA of 3.75 or higher) this season with Nicole and Brooke receiving All conference honors and Brianna receiving a honorable mention

“We had a lot of injuries this year, so we were very fortunate to have six captains,” Holmberg said. “Six very good senior leaders.”

Another noteworthy MA/C-A player, junior Lauren Reimers raked in the awards at the sports banquet, including a big box of home run balls. Coach Holmberg joked that she never had to put home run balls in a box before as Reimers finished the season with 11 homeruns, four triples, and seven doubles in her 82 at bats. Reimers led the Tigers with a 0.598 batting average and a 65 percent on base percentage, finishing with 43 RBI and 49 hits. Reimers was also a member of the All State team for Class AA, a member of the All Area team put on by the West Central Tribune, and voted the Most Valuable Player of the WCC with her all conference honors.

Sophomore Becca Holland also swung her way into the .300 club, batting a .381 on the season. Holland was named to the WCT’s All Area team and received all conference honors along with Reimers, Nicole Strobel, Brooke Johnson, and Kayla Pring. Brianna Abril received all conference honorable mention.

Five members of the 2013-2014 team were inducted into the .300 Club, finishing the season with a batting average above 300 and participating in at least 10 games during the season. Along with Reimers and Holland, Nicole Strobel, Abbie Olson, and junior Emma Zosel received those honors.

“We had a great year. We had a lot of great players and parents...That’s what makes me love to coach this program,” Holmberg said. Holmberg looks forward to more success in the future of the MA/C-A Tiger softball program.

Brooke Kern

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