Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
By Gary Riess
The 2011 Fastpitch softball season got under way Saturday, April 9, with the Kimball Tourney involving the Cubs, Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity, and Royalton. It was a round robin double-header to kick off the new season. After three weeks of indoor practice, the team was anxious to get outside and play. This week, Tuesday, April 5, the Cubs ventured out for the first time and Wednesday and Thursday, April 6 and 7, they got their first practice time on a diamond. Thursday's practice included a new drill this year called shoveling snow as the players in groups of four spent time shoveling the snow drift from behind the backstop to prevent the runoff from flowing across the field.
Saturday, the field was ready and the Cubs began the day with a game against Royalton. The Cubs' roster this season consists of 14 juniors and seniors with eight players making their varsity debuts. First game jitters were apparent as an error led to Royalton's first run in the top of the inning. The Cubs came back with two in the bottom of the first, as Tiffany Berscheid and Brooke Merten scored for a 2-1 lead. Kimball got two more in the fourth, and scored single runs in the fifth and sixth innings. Royalton would only score once more in the fifth, as the Cubs prevailed by a 6-2 score. Kimball got three hits from Melody Rose, Brooke Merten scored three runs, and Tiffany Berscheid scored twice. Megan Libbesmeier, Megan Garding, and Steph Konz had RBI. On the mound, Libbesmeier went the distance, allowing four hits with 10 strikeouts and two walks.
Lester Prairie and Royalton played the second game and LP pulled out a 5-4 win, scoring twice in the seventh for a come-from-behind victory. Now LP and Kimball met in the final game of the day. The Cubs scored first as Berscheid scored on an RBI single from Libbesmeier. LP tied the game in the third with an unearned run, but the Cubs struck for three runs in the fourth with Berscheid, Merten and Libbesmeier scoring with RBI to Libbesmeier and Konz. The Cubs had built a 4-1 lead and they carried it into the sixth when things went sour. Two errors to start the inning put the Cubs in a hole, and then three hits and two more errors gave LP four runs and a 5-4 lead. Another error in the seventh led to a run for LP and a 6-4 lead going into the bottom of the seventh. Natalie Stein reached via error and stole second. Alyssa Hurrle's RBI brought her home to cut the deficit to 6-5. Tiffany Berscheid doubled and the tying run was at second, but the rally fell short and the Cubs were defeated 6-5. For the game, Berscheid and Libbesmeier had three hits and Megan Garding two hits. The Cubs managed 11 hits, but left 12 runners on base, so they came up one hit and one run short. Megan Libbesmeier pitched the full game with eight strikeouts and three walks. For the day, she did not allow an earned run, as all eight of the runs off her were unearned because of three errors in the first game and eight in the second game. Defense will be especially important this season with the pitching mound moved back three feet to get more hitting and defense into the game. Experience will benefit the Cubs as eight of the 11 errors on the day were committed by players making their varsity debuts.
This year's varsity consists of seniors Shannon Donnay, Megan Garding, Melody Rose, and Natalie Stein. Juniors are Tiffany Berscheid, Shelby Seth, Megan Libbesmeier, Anndi Ertel, Alyssa Hurrle, Brooke Merten, Megan Jones, Olivia Fischer, McKenzie Berres, and Steph Konz. The coach is Gary Riess in his 35th. year at Kimball High School.
The upcoming week will see games at Osakis and St. John's Prep before opening the CMC conference schedule the following week.