Thole: Ponies softball discovers mojo

By GEORGE THOLE – Stillwater Gazette

The last time that I glanced at coach Bob Beedle’s state champion softball team it was something like 10-6 and appeared to be struggling. That’s right, sports fans, they were lacking mojo – but made up for it big time with an 11-2 mark down the home stretch.

The Red and Black (21-8) flexed their muscles by knocking off vaunted North St. Paul and the knocking off White Bear Lake in a championship doubleheader to grab the Section 4AA title.

Our girls found North Mankato’s Caswell Park to their liking with an 11-0 pounding of Farmington (17-6) with junior Hannah Heacox pitching a no-hitter. The Ponies also connected on 13 hits, led by Carlie Hart (2×4), Haley Balzart (2×3), Allison Eder-Zdechlik (1×3), Natalie Gerber (2×4), Heacox (3×4), Rachel Hartwig (1×4), Sidnee Ronsberg (1×2) and Lauren Jordan (1×1) to pick apart Farmington pitcher Ashley Betzhold.

It took the locals 11 innings to outlast Mankato East (25-5) in the semifinals and this time all-state infielder Eder-Zdechlik slammed a home run to knot the score 2-all in the seventh and force extra innings. The team of destiny, sparked by Gerber’s earlier home run and a two-run single sent SAHS to the finals.

Stillwater could smell the roses when it jumped out to a 4-1 lead after two innings en route to a 6-2 victory over Maple Grove (24-3) for the state pot of gold. Eder-Zdechlik was 2×4 with a pair of RBIs with Gerber and Hartwig also driving in a run each as the march was on. The locals added a run in the fourth and sixth innings to win their first state championship in 12 years.

Eder-Zdechlik, Gerber and Heacox were named to the All-Tourney squad. Kudos to the team, coach Beedle, Roger Stippel and Mike Meyers.

Today’s Sports

Trivia Question

Name the SAHS eighth-grader who won the 1982 state alpine ski championship?

In the huddle

Nate Hewes, a junior second baseman from Stillwater, was a Second Team All-NSIC selection for Augustana College of Sioux Falls, S.D., this spring. Hewes also earned a spot on the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Gold Glove Team. He earned the latter distinction by making just six errors on 227 chances for a .965 fielding percentage. The Vikings finished with a 32-21 record for their third straight 30-win season…. Senior Pete Corcoran ’08 of Bates College ran on the second-place distance medley relay team at the New England Small College Athletic Conference track meet recently. FYI, Bates was founded in 1856 by Maine abolitionists and it is a high-end college…. Stillwater’s John Uppgren, a senior at Choate Academy, was recently named to All-League and All-Western New England Lacrosse honors. Uppgren led his team in scoring with 36 goals and 26 assists while corralling 45 ground balls in the process. He will take his talents to Tufts University to play for the Jumbos next year…. The Sad Stat Department: Reports surfaced last fall that the Vikings led the NFL in arrests over the last 12 years. The Purple were arrested 36 times, nipping the Cincinnati Bengals with 35. No bonuses for that, I hope…. My daughter-in-law Amy Thole recently scored a hole-in-one at Stillwater Country Club on the 145-yard hole No. 17 using a driver. Playing in her foursome were Tubby Lohmer, Julie Gfrerer and Carol Steele…. Former Ponies gridder Ross Halverson ’04 is engaged to be married to the lovely Ellen Foley, a 2006 grad of Dassel-Cokato High School. Both are currently full-time students at Century College in White Bear Lake. The wedding will take place at Fort Snelling next spring. Ross received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Marine Corps, receiving the rank of Lance Corporal after a three-year tour. He received a Meritorious Citation for his excellent performance in military tactics…. Answer to Today’s Sports Trivia Question: That’s Stillwater’s Missy (Kool) Junker ’82 we’re referring to who surprised the prep scene…. Ty Thompson, son of former Ponies athletes Gregg and Nelle (Palmer) Thompson ’78, graduated from Granite Bay High School in California recently and will play soccer next fall at Stanford University in Palo Alto…. Dr. Amy (Furnelle) Smith ’82, a former Ponies hurdler, is a tenured professor at the University of St. Thomas. Amy has her Ph.D from the University of New Hampshire and undergraduate and masters degrees from St. Thomas. Amy and her husband Michael reside in Lino Lakes and have three children Betsy, 20, Alex, 18, and Kate, 14…. Everyone tells me I’m a dinosaur. They must be right because I’m starting to feel like a T-Rex…. Finis

Today’s rumination #571

It’s better to look ahead and prepare than look back and regret.