Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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FRONTENAC – Red Wing and Lake City met up on Saturday for the first time since the two collided at the Section 1AA tournament last year. Now the two squads, both among the top four in the state no matter the class, are using each other as nothing more than a measuring stick. With the Wingers moving to Class 3A, and the Tigers staying in Class 2A, the rivalry has lost a bit of its edge.
Despite being down by five runs heading into the third inning, it appeared as though Red Wing would hang with Winona all game. But the Winhawks took full advantage of the few Winger miscues, and Red Wing's bats went cold under sunny skies allowing Winona to leave with an 11-0 Big Nine Conference victory on Thursday.
ZUMBROTA – Tuesday's game between Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Kasson-Mantorville did not have the same build up that previous contests have. In the recent past, the two teams have played some epic games, and more often than not, the pitchers dominated. On Tuesday, that was the case for one team, for six innings. Morgan Olson tore through the KoMet lineup for 18 outs, but a 9-0 lead going into the seventh was nearly not enough as K-M put up more than a handful of runs to make the Cougars sweat out a 9-7 victory.
(In alphabetical order) FIRST TEAM Madi Green (sr. forward, Lake City) 14.7 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.1 bpg, All-Hiawatha Valley League From coach Drew Olinger: “This season a lot of what we did on the offensive end revolved around Madi. She is a multi-talented basketball player. She can score on the low block with efficient post moves and she can also step outside and make a few 3-pointers per games. She has committed to play basketball at MSU-Moorhead next season.”
CANNON FALLS – Zumbrota-Mazeppa led off the game with three lasers off the bats of Kevin Nordquist, Brady Schoenfelder and Tyler Grudem. But all three were right at Cannon Falls' fielders, leaving the Cougars scoreless. The Bombers responded with four runs in the bottom of the first inning, benefiting from two walks and two errors instead of the on-the-nose shots that Z-M had produced. Still, runs are runs, and Cannon Falls had plenty of them on Thursday at John Burch Park, opening the season with a 10-0 victory over the Cougars.
Spring is a season of change, of hope. The grass will eventually turn green, the flowers will bloom in time. Despite the last gasps of winter, baseball is here. And for Red Wing head coach Paul Hartmann, this is a season that will begin with optimism, and not much else.
Looking to improve on 2015’s 5-16 record, and first-round playoff loss, Red Wing softball coach Jon Bohmbach is pinning his hopes on very young roster. There are five seniors to help the Wingers along, and many of the younger girls got some time on the varsity field last year, which will help early in the season. But the biggest hole is a gaping one. Gone is Emily Boxrud, Red Wing’s main pitcher over the past two seasons. And it is there that the path of the 2016 campaign will take shape.
The Class 1A girls state basketball tournament begins on Thursday, and despite having the top two ranked teams in the field, the bracket seems as wide open as it ever has. Goodhue, the No. 1 seed and the top-ranked team, is seen as the favorite, and by virtue of a victory over No. 2 seed, and second-ranked, Mountain Iron-Buhl earlier this season, it seems as though the Wildcats are in prime position to capturing that first championship.
ROCHESTER – It's been a couple of years, but Goodhue and Rushford-Peterson got back together on Friday night. And just like last time, the Wildcats and Trojans met at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester to battle for the Section 1A championship. The last time the two teams played was in 2014, in the same section title game. Goodhue had no trouble with R-P in that game, winning 75-38 en route to a third-place finish in the Class 1A state tournament.
MINNEAPOLIS – Defense wins championships. It's a cliché, but that's because it tends to be true. Goodhue has employed a stout defense all season, and, really, in the three near-complete seasons that Matt Halverson has been head coach. A few days before Thursday's Class 1A quarterfinal against Lake Park-Audubon, Halverson said that the Wildcats, molded after Halverson's Rushford-Peterson Trojans, were to the point that the team could implement individual game plans, having already mastered the basics of the coach's pressure defense.