April 14, 2004 at 6:26 p.m.
Chisago Lakes 1
Steve Fisher might not have liked the end result, but the information he took away from the 3-1 loss to Big Lake last Tuesday was priceless.
First of all, Fisher found out that Sarah Ploog is ready to be the team’s number one pitcher. After losing Becca Ploog through graduation, pitching was one of the biggest concerns, if not the biggest this spring. Ploog, making her first start of the season, answered the call.
Secondly, the younger players are ready. Ninth-grader Morgan Baumgard led the ‘Cats with three hits including a double and triple, while eighth-grader Ariel Novak added two hits. In addition, Novak was solid in the field, getting her first work at shortstop.
However, like with every game, there were plenty of negatives as well. For example, the Wildcats struck out 13 times. In the first inning alone, after a triple by Baumgard, Chisago struck out three consecutive times, stranding the runner on third.
In this game, the negatives outweighed the positives.
“You can’t be real disappointed. We found out where some of the kids can play,” said Fisher, Chisago Lakes head softball coach. “We basically have seven out of our nine kids in positions they’ve never played before. We’re still trying to find kids and plug the holes.”
Their holes showed right away. With two outs in the bottom of the first, the Hornets reached on an error. Two hits later, Big Lake had a 2-0 lead. That’s all they would need.
After the Wildcats left a runner on third in the bottom of the first, the game turned into a pitching duel until the bottom of the fifth. Novak started things off with a single followed by a Baumgard double, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Katie Reed did her job. The junior put the ‘Cats on the board on the very next pitch, sending a sacrifice fly into the outfield, deep enough to score Novak for the first run of the game. However, that was all they got, leaving Baumgard stranded in scoring position, still trailing 2-1 after five.
“I kind of thought we would get the bat on the ball a little bit more,” remarked Fisher. “We need to be more aggressive, but that comes with more varsity experience, a lack of game experience. They just don’t want to make any mistakes so they aren’t being aggressive.”
It didn’t take long for the Hornets to answer. In the top of the sixth inning, after a Chisago error, Big Lake strung together back-to-back singles, scoring their third and final run of the game.
The Wildcats could not answer, falling 3-1, dropping to 0-1 overall and 0-1 in the conference.
“I thought Sarah did a good job pitching, she did really well,” commented Fisher. “And our youngsters got five of our seven hits. What more can you say about that?
“It’s going to take three to four games for everything to shake out,” continued Fisher. “It was a very typical first game. It really was about what I expected.”
If three to four more games will do the trick, then by this time next week, the ‘Cats should be rolling. The Wildcats finish the week with Menomonie (Wisc), Virginia and Proctor before hosting Princeton next Tuesday.
Big Lake 3, Chisago Lakes 1
Big Lake 200 001 0 3
Chisago Lakes 000 010 0 1
Baumgard 3-4, double, triple
Novak 2-3, R
LP: Ploog (0-1)