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ZUMBROTA – Kevin Nelson admits to being a little relieved when Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s softball field new name was unveiled. “I was glad when they unveiled it that it didn’t say ‘the Kevin Nelson Memorial Field’ or something like that,” Nelson said in a dry tone. Prior to the start of Monday’s game against Hiawatha Valley League rival Pine Island, the Cougars’ field was christened Kevin Nelson Field, complete with a sign below the scoreboard commemorating the honor.
ZUMBROTA – Against top-ranked Zumbrota-Mazeppa, any mistake will be magnified. With an All-State pitcher and a lineup that seems to sport power one-through-nine every year, the Cougars are a hard enough out on an equal playing field. Pine Island managed to play five innings of strong softball, but it was the first two innings where errors and misplayed balls haunted the Panthers as Class 2A's top team picked up a 4-1 Hiawatha Valley League home win on Monday.
Not even the power of pancakes were going to keep Red Wing's mind off a victory. Prior to Saturday's top-10 Class 3A matchup with No. 5 Rocori, members of the Wingers baseball team went out for breakfast. But, the team had an appetite for victory, not necessarily breakfast. “We went out to Perkins and all we were thinking about was today's game. Couldn't think about anything else,” said Red Wing starting pitcher Teddy Tauer. “Maybe when the server brought the food out, that's exciting. But this game was huge.”
CANNON FALLS – Patience. That's what Cannon Falls needed on Thursday. Wait for the right pitch. Don't get frustrated and take bad swings. Wait for the right moment to attack. Eventually, that patience would pay off. With one out to go in Thursday's Hiawatha Valley League game at John Burch Park, Aaron Stanek was one out away from throwing a no-hitter for fourth-ranked (Class 2A) Rochester Lourdes. But with an RBI single by Max Bowen and a throwing error that allowed another run to come across, Cannon Falls brought the game to extra innings.
Dave Muelken mulled it over for a month. And earlier this week, the Red Wing girls’ basketball coach decided it was time to step away. Muelken confirmed his departure on Tuesday, ending a five-year run at the helm that ended with a 71-72 record and a pair of state appearances, including the team’s best ever postseason finish.
With bases loaded before recording the first out of the top of the seventh inning, there was concern as to how Red Wing would handle the adversity. Up 5-1 with three outs to go against Cannon Falls, the Bombers had the game-tying run in the batter’s box. The Wingers bent. But they didn’t break. Cannon Falls was unable to tie up the game as Hannah Rodgers and the Red Wing defense secured the 5-3 victory at Red Wing High School.
Another game, another one-run victory for the Red Wing baseball team. Tied at 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Wingers caught a break when Seth Morem reached second on a Tigers fielding error. Then after a Teddy Tauer sacrifice bunt put Morem at third, Seth Yeatman’s bat ended the game as the sophomore third baseball blasted a single to center field to secure a 2-1 walk-off victory at the Red Wing Athletic Field.
It took one game for the Red Wing baseball team to see how their entire season could play out. In one sense, the team is young and has some inexperience. And that showed early against Austin Tuesday as the Wingers had four errors over the first four innings, leading to a 3-1 deficit. But the team also saw that if they continue to play hard, they'll reap the rewards. And they did that at the Red Wing Athletic Field thanks to a two-run sixth inning that put the Wingers in the win column with a 4-3 victory over the Packers.
GOODHUE – Through the shivering cold and howling wind, Gavin Roosen had a fire inside of him Monday. It was only the second game of the season for Kenyon-Wanamingo, but the junior pitcher wanted to take down Goodhue after the top-seeded Knights were upset in the first round of the Section 1A tournament against the eighth-seeded Wildcats.
The Red Wing girls’ golf team is in a new class and will take on a new course in the section final. But with four girls back from last year’s Class 2A state champion team, these new elements aren’t about to spook the Wingers. “I think we’ll be pretty good,” said Red Wing head coach Mark Herzog. “We lose depth (with Reagan Haley and Kayla Oberding graduating), so we don’t have quite that margin of error. But we got a couple kids who can fill in at the five and six spots.”