Cougar softball hits stride in time for playoffs
Lakeville South nearly tops Jefferson
Since losing to Burnsville 9-1 on April 30, few teams in the South Suburban Conference have been playing as well as the Lakeville South softball team.
The Cougars finished off the season winning four of six.
“We are playing our best softball right now,” head coach Colleen Powers said. “We are comfortable being the underdog, and see it as a position of power. If we take care of the little things, we will go toe to toe with anyone.”
The girls defeated Eagan 4-1 on May 2, Prior Lake 4-3 on May 4, Bloomington Kennedy 4-2 on May 9 and Wayzata 9-5 on May 12.
The Cougars had South Suburban Conference co-champion Bloomington Jefferson tied 1-1 late on Monday, but Jefferson pulled ahead by the end to win 2-1. Taylor Kerl scored Lindsey Kamleiter in the sixth inning to tie the game.
“There were multiple opportunities for both teams to take that game, and we were one pitch away in the bottom of the eighth,” Powers said. “Jefferson’s solo home run in the top of the ninth and was enough to get them the win. That was a great example of how our game can be determined by inches. We look forward to getting another shot at them in the section tournament.
One big reason for the turnaround is that the players are feeling more comfortable and playing more relaxed under pressure.
“The biggest key for us has been hitting in the clutch, and shutting teams down by playing defense behind our pitchers,” Powers said. “The kids are having fun, and when we have fun and relax we play good softball.”
After a few tough losses, the seniors didn’t want to go down like that.
Baylee Meier has gotten on base as the leadoff hitter and classmates Kamleiter and Kerl have gotten the key hits. Lindsey Uphoff has provided an offensive spark as well.
It helps that pitcher Kylie Stober has found a rhythm.
“She’s throwing the best she has all season, and her defense is backing her up and taking care of the ball,” Powers said. “She has done an excellent job of keeping hitters off balance.”
The Section 3AAA playoffs began on Thursday. With the No. 6 seed, Lakeville South played No. 11 Simley at home. With a victory, the Cougars will head to No. 3 seed Burnsville on Monday.