NORTH MANKATO – At the beginning of the season, Calli Maki was considered Maple Lake’s No. 2 pitcher. But when the three-year starter who had held down the top spot surprisingly decided to forego her senior year of softball, it was Maki who stepped in and seized the position.
Maki, a junior, pitched a one-hitter, striking out five and leaning on the Irish’s solid defense as they improved to 26-0 with a 9-0 victory over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in the Class 2A semifinals.
“Calli Maki has really been amazing for us,” coach Tim Knudsen said. “Of course, it helps that we can hit. And we play good defense.”
While Maki has been a godsend on the rubber, Maple Lake’s calling card has been its offense. The top-seeded and No. 1-ranked Irish averaged more than 10 runs per game going into the tournament. The offense gave her plenty of support against the Rebels.
LinseyRachel went 4-for-4 and scored two runs, Maki contributed three hits and Amber Klug has two hits and three RBI. Maple Lake will be making its second championship game appearance in the last three years.
“We anticipated we would be here, going all the way back to spring break when we went to California and played some pretty good teams there,” Knudsen said. “That set the tone for the season.”
Zumbrota-Mazeppa 9, Esko 4: The defending champion Cougars, the No. 2 seed, won for the 12th time in their last 13 games to advance to the Class 2A title game. Lyndsey Quam pitched a complete game after throwing four no-hit innings in a 9-4 victory over St. Agnes in the quarterfinals.
Jasmine Hanson and Kiarra Summer combined on a three-hit shutout for the Rebels. The only run of the game came in the third inning when Katlyn Brenna doubled and came around on a pair of ground outs.
Mollie Scheiber hit a three-run homer run and Linsey Rachel added a solo blast as the No. 1 seeded Irish ran their record to 25-0. Cali Maki pitched a complete game, striking out 10, for Maple Lake.
The defending champion Cougars put up offense early, taking a 9-0 lead, then held off a late Aggies rally to advance to the semifinals. Natalie Majerus went 2-for-4 with a home run for Zumbrota-Mazeppa.
Emilee Wilson pitched a four-hit shutout to lift Esko to a 4-0 victory over No. 3-seeded Pipestone. Ashley Pollema hit a two-run home run in the first inning and Wilson added a home run in the sixth for the Eskomos.