All-Area Softball: Cougars come up with four All-Area selections
P — Morgan Olson, so., Zumbrota-Mazeppa (Player of the Year)
The 2014 Republican Eagle All-Area Player of the Year, Olson has doubled up on All-State and All-Conference selections the past two years. Olson had a 2014 record of 17-3 while striking out 82 batters and walking just six. Olson’s ERA was a paltry 1.06, while her batting average came in at .489 with three home runs, 12 doubles and a triple.
From Z-M coach Kevin Nelson: “ (A) great leadoff hitter that hits with power and has great speed. What people don’t understand is she is a great outfielder but because she pitches most people don’t get to see that. Hardest worker on the team.”
OF — Mary Bender, sr., Red Wing
The Wingers’ Most Improved player of 2014, Bender batted .347 with an on-base percentage of .500. Bender led Red Wing with seven doubles and was an honorable mention selection to the All-Missota Conference team.
C — McKenzie Cota, so., Red Wing
An All-Missota Conference selection, Cota batted .400 with five doubles, a triple and a home run. Cota’s nine RBI tied Hailey Kuhl for the team lead.
1B — Hailey Dykes, jr., Zumbrota-Mazeppa
Playing out of position, Dykes hit .444 with three home runs and six doubles among her 28 hits this season. Dykes scored 20 runs and drove in 17.
From Z-M coach Kevin Nelson: “(A) very solid first baseman. Good speed and has a lot of athleticism. Not (our) normal first baseman, Hailey can play outfield and has one of the strongest arms on the team.”
P, SS — Lydia Franken, sr., Cannon Falls
An occasional shortstop, Franken’s biggest contributions to the Bombers was inside the circle where the senior finished with a 1.93 ERA and 107 strikeouts. Franken batted .455 and was named team MVP to go along with All-Section and All-Conference honors.
From Cannon Falls coach Mike Gunderson: “Lydia Franken has been a three-year starter for me on the mound. I believe she is one of the best pitchers in our very competitive conference. Lydia also played shortstop when not pitching, (and she) can play virtually any position on (field) the except catcher. Lydia has been my best hitter all three years (she was played varsity softball).”
OF — Maria Furlong, jr., Red Wing
Furlong’s seven doubles tied for the team lead while her batting average of .383 was good for third on Red Wing’s roster. On base in every-other at-bat with an OBP of .500.
CF — Carley Henning, sr., Zumbrota-Mazeppa
Every other at-bat from Henning resulted in a hit as the Z-M senior hit .500 this season. Henning had eight home runs, five doubles and three triples among her 44 hits, and also drove in 40 runs while scoring 28 more. A two-time All-State and All-Conference selection (2013, 2014), Henning holds career school records in hits (137), RBI (108) and home runs (24). Z-M coach Kevin Nelson describes Henning as a “great all-around player.”
C, P — Lexie Kennedy, jr., Goodhue
In 19 games, Kennedy batted .426 with 17 runs, one triple, three home runs, 13 RBI and an on-base percentage of .581. With one more season to play, the Wildcat looks to improve upon her 2013 Honorable Mention All-Conference, 2014 All-Conference and 2014 All-Section selections.
From Goodhue coach Chris Irvin: “Lexie struggled at the plate for the first five games of the season, but batted almost .600 in the final 14 games of the season.”
CF — Bailey Kreisler, jr., Goodhue
Kreisler hit .352 over 19 games to go along with 14 runs, three doubles, two home runs, eight RBI and a .492 on-base percentage. A 2014 honorable mention All-Conference selection, Kreisler has a career .312 average and three career home runs.
SS — Hailey Kuhl, sr., Red Wing
Kuhl, playing without an ACL, batted a team high .419 while also leading the Wingers in runs (21), OBP (.553), doubles (six), home runs (three) and RBI (nine). Kuhl was an All-Missota Conference and All-Section 1AAA selection and graduated with Highest Distinction.
From Red Wing coach Jon Bombach: “Also a three-sport letterwinner. Comes back with torn ACL after missing her freshman and sophomore years where she would have played varsity. Was honorable mention All-Conference last year. Helped us improve from one win two years ago, to two wins last year and eight wins this year (in) one of the bigger turnarounds for a team in the area.”
C — Tayler Mort, jr., Zumbrota-Mazeppa
One of five Cougars to hit over .400, Mort was third on the team in batting average at .455 with seven double and a home run while keeping at bay any runners that reached base with one of the best arms in the area. A two-time All-State and All-Conference selection (2013, 2014).
From Z-M coach Kevin Nelson: “(A) great all-around catcher, and as all the ability to be an elite catcher with one more year of experience. Nobody runs on us because of her strong accurate arm. Good offensive player too.”
C — Becca Vandenheuvel, sr., Cannon Falls
Vandenheuvel batted .321 in 2014, and was the Bombers’ Defensive Player of the Year. That distinction was in addition to All-Section and All-Conference honors.
From Cannon Falls coach Mike Gunderson: “Becca is a very talented catcher with an exceptional glove and a lightning quick release. Becca is always one off my better hitters, (and) is a great leader on the team.”
3B, C, P — Emily Ziebell, sr., Lake City
Batted .412 in 2014, and .438 in her career. A two-time All-Conference selection, and a 2013 selection to the All-Area team as well. Lake City’s Offensive Player of the Year in both 2013 and 2014, and a 2014 Fast Pitch Coaches Association All-Academic Team.
From Lake City coach Mike Johnson: “Emily did everything she could to help the team never saying no when asked. Though she was a talented third baseman, she also volunteered to pitch and catch giving it everything she had to fill in when needed. Emily, as with all the seniors, never quit even after having a disappointing season. She always kept a positive attitude and though the record didn’t show it, Emily always came out on top along with her teammates in having a winning attitude. She also volunteered to work with the youth softball programs and help in any way to enhance the future softball program. Emily led by example on the field and off.”
Honorable mention: IF-Abby Giese, Ellsworth, First team All-MBC; P-Serena Hoisington, Ellsworth, Second team All-MBC; OF-Darby DeGross, Ellsworth, Second team All-MBC; IF-Ashley Matzek, Ellsworth, Second team All-MBC (no statistics were provided from Ellsworth); OF-Amber Gehrke, sr., Z-M, .276 AVG, 16 RBI, 2 HR; P-Emily Boxrud, jr., Red Wing, 6-10 record, 71 Ks, 5.35 ERA; 3B-Kelsey Reding, sr., .244 AVG, .469 OBP, 9 BB.