NEVIS – Head coach Michael Weerts has seen a major improvement from the Nevis fast softball team this season.
After going 4-10 last season, the Tigers finished 5-5 for fourth 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,” Weerts said. “We were young and still learning the game. We kept making small mistakes throughout the games, but those weren’t as frequent as the season progressed.
The Tigers opened the season with a 3-1 record beating Laporte 18-0, losing to Blackduck 7-4 and beating 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).
Victories 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 two defeats against Pine. Rivière-Backus (22-8 and 15-12). The Tigers finished the regular season with a 15-8 win over Lake of the Woods.
WHA won the conference title with an 8-0 record while Kelliher-Northome went 6-1 and PR-B finished at 7-3. Behind 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 were given the No. 5 seed in the West and were eliminated with a 17-10 loss to the No. 4 PR-B.
Nevis averaged 9.2 carries per game while allowing an average of 10.5 carries per game. The Tigers had a .347 batting average and a 6.85 ERA.
“It took time to go from the gymnasium to the field. You have to deal with different elements with wind, sun and field conditions that you can’t mimic in the gym,” Weerts said. “It brought new energy when we finally got out and the girls worked hard to get ready for the games.”
Leading the Tigers this season are 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 Tigers MVP after hitting .487 (20-41) and going 4-5 with a 5.21 ERA this season. The carrier allowed 108 runs (41 earned) on 64 hits and 50 walks while striking out 56 runs in 55 ⅓ innings.
Lindow also started all 17 games and won the team’s Gold Glove Award as the starting catcher after going .352 (18-51).
Bolster received the team’s Slugger Award after going .428 (18-42) as a starter in center field in 14 games.
Brakke hit .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 appeared 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 at the mound. In 35⅔ innings, Offerdahl allowed 69 runs (48 earned) on 50 hits and 24 walks with 24 strikeouts.
Luebbert hit .348 (15-43) and started in left field in 15 games.
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, which helped relieve Maggie,” Weerts said. “That was key because we had a lot of games in a few days. It would give Maggie a break and Peyton did a great job coming in and presenting 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 are going to lose Maddy and Maggie. These two have been part of the program since their elementary days. They missed their second season (due to COVID), had a scattered junior season with games canceled at all times due to COVID protocols, and had a weather-shortened senior season. Throughout it all they helped the young players and had a great attitude through all the chaos and we will miss them next season,” Weerts said. “I feel that the program is going in the right direction. Molly and Paradise will return as seniors and fit right in with a strong group of young players. Peyton will only get stronger as a pitcher and having college experience as an eighth grader will show that next season. If they can get a strong pitcher and roster, the Tigers will be a strong team for years to come. There will be a solid group of freshmen coming in next year who will see a lot of playing time. Those girls also play summer ball, and that’s where teams improve. The more we can get them to play during the offseason, the better they will be and it will show next spring. If this girl group stays together and keeps playing, Tigers fans will have some fun seasons to look forward to in the near future.