Roberts trio leading Eagles softball
NEW YORK MILLS — The New York Mills softball team (17-1) dropped from No. 6 to No. 10 after suffering their first defeat of the season to No. 8 Norman County East/Ulen Hitterdal (17-2) by a score of 15-6 Friday to close out regular season play.
The game with the Titans came at the end of a week that had the Eagles in a doubleheader the prior Tuesday with Pillager and a three-game tournament Wednesday against Bagley, Lake Park-Audubon and Wadena-Deer Creek on the road in Fosston.
The Eagles won all five games by a combined score of 51-7, the closest being an 8-5 victory for the Fosston tournament championship. They allowed just two runs in the other four games.
Heading into a top-10 state match-up with the Titans with five games in two days under their belts left the Eagles a bit sluggish.
“We were dead,” EmaLeigh and Autumn Roberts, sisters, said in unison.
“They were really good,” EmaLeigh said. “They pounded the ball and we didn’t play like we normally do. They played a lot like we’ve been playing.”
The loss may do more good than harm in a season where the Eagles have played 18 games in the span of 21 days. There is bound to be a letdown in that schedule somewhere and best to have that happen in the regular season with the playoffs starting this week.
“It was so slow right away,” Autumn said. “Once games started it just flew by.”
“It was a good game to learn from,” said EmaLeigh. “It showed us what we need to work on. It was good to get the target off our back.”
New York Mills won the Park Region Conference championship with a perfect record of 12-0. The Eagles finished two games ahead of Ottertail Central at 10-2. The two teams met to start the season April 26 with Mills winning 5-1 and 14-13.
“We didn’t expect to win both of those games,” said Autumn.
Winning has certainly been an expectation ever since and the top-seeded Eagles await the winner of No. 8 Barnesville and No. 9 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley to kick off the Section 6A playoffs, which were scheduled to begin Tuesday.
The Eagles finished runners-up to a talented Sebeka team in last year’s section playoffs. Sebeka denied New York Mills a trip to the state tournament by the slimmest of margins in a 3-2 Section final victory. That game has been a motivating factor for this year’s team..
“Yeah, it was,” EmaLeigh said in a tone of chagrin.
The sisterly duo have been leaders on both teams with EmaLeigh the starting shortstop and tenacious leadoff hitter, while Autumn handles the majority of innings on the pitching rubber. The hidden gem this season was a third sister, seventh-grader Rhiana, who has made an impact at a young age on the team.
“Our sister Rhiana...,” Autumn perked up at the question of another team member who has contributed this year.
“Not to be biased,” said EmaLeigh. “We knew we were going to need more pitchers this year and she blew me away by coming up and just being able to step in the shoes of someone who didn’t want to pitch this year. She helped us out a lot.”
Frazee is the No. 2 team in the Eagles playoff bracket with their old nemesis Sebeka in at No. 3. Frazee is hosting the North Subsection final this year, which is scheduled for Thursday, May 23 at 5 p.m. The Section final will be played the following Tuesday, at 5:30 p.m. in Pelican Rapids.
Should the trio of Roberts sisters and the remaining Eagles continue to play as they have all season, fans should expect to see them in both of those games.
CLASS A Rankings
Rank.(prev) School (Section) -(Points)
1.(2) New Life Academy (S4)-(34)
2.(1) Mankato Loyola (S2)-(33)
3.(4) Chatfield (S1)-(26)
4.(3) Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (S3)-(25)
4.(9) Cherry (S7)-(25)
6.(10) Houston (S1)-(17)
7.(7) Blooming Prairie (S1)-(15)
8.(4) New Ulm Cathedral (S2)-(11)
8.(8) NCE/UH (S8)-(11)
10.(6) New York Mills (S6)-(8)
Rankings are a composite of the voting of four section reps of Class A who voted this week.