Softball: Rout of Cardinals has Osakis moving in right direction early
Things might be easing into a normal spring routine for teams around the area after schedules were thrown into a flux with another snow storm last week.
The forecast calls for plenty of sun and temperatures in the 60s much of the next week, but programs have had to scramble and get creative to try to get games in. The Osakis softball team is no different. The Silverstreaks were given an hour’s notice on Tuesday that they needed to leave on the bus at noon instead of 1 p.m. to accommodate Pierz, which was good enough to let Osakis play a game against Browerville-Eagle Valley there that afternoon.
On Thursday night, the Silverstreaks hosted Staples-Motley for their home opener, though even that required some creativity. The game was played on Osakis’ junior varsity field with the varsity field not quite ready yet. The Silverstreaks had no problems adjusting as they easily won a 17-2 game in four innings.
“I think we did really well,” senior Kylie Anderson said. “Playing teams that are a little bit lower, it’s easy to fall down to their level, and I think we did a good job of playing up at our level, playing really hard. Our pitch selection was good. We weren’t chasing bad pitches, so I think overall it was a good day.”
Staples-Motley is coming off an 0-18 season in 2018. The Cardinals struggled mightily to throw strikes against Osakis as they combined to issue 11 walks and hit three batters. With that in mind, the Silverstreaks went up to bat with a patient approach but eager to swing if given the chance.
“We never want to chase anything, but if there’s a pitch there, we want to attack everything we can,” sophomore Tia Dykema said.
The biggest inning came in the second when Osakis scored 11 runs.
Dykema laced a hard-hit ball to the outfield that drove in two and went for a double in that frame. Senior Jaden Klimek added a two-run single. Dykema walked in another run that inning, and senior Shea Olson added an RBI single, as well.
The Silverstreaks needed three runs in the bottom of the fourth to end the game by the 15-run rule. They got that when sophomore Laynee Hartshorn hit a two-run single, and Dykema added to her big day with an RBI single that ended things early.
“I think we were patient at the plate,” head coach John Stigman said. “That was the big thing.”
Around the big night offensively was a quality start in the circle from freshman Shelbe Schmidt. She scattered seven singles, but was around the strike zone much of the night with just one walk allowed. Schmidt induced a double play to end the fourth inning when the Cardinals were threatening to put up a crooked number by loading the bases.
Stigman said his young pitcher could have changed speeds a little more, but he liked how she was around the plate. That never gave Staples-Motley a chance.
Osakis has a senior pitcher in Klimek who has pitched in a lot of big games, but Schmidt is one of the younger pitchers who will get some experience from the varsity circle this season.
“That was the way we thought going in, we were going to use as many (pitchers) as we could,” Stigman said. “Jaden has been with us for four years now, but she’s going to be gone next year, and if we don’t develop somebody we’re going to be starting over again. She’s going to be our mainstay, but we have the ability to make changes if we need to.”
The Silverstreaks are 2-1 now after the win, and Stigman said it is still too early to say what kind of an identity this team will have. Osakis had a rare losing season last spring at 7-10 overall, and the hope for players and coaches is that they learn from that.
“Our teams have certain things that we’re known for, and we didn’t really see that last year,” Stigman said. “That’s kind of the focus we have this year is to try to create that identity, re-create a culture, and right now the jury is out on that. We’re still trying to figure out who’s going to take charge and lead us.”
Stigman said he has good leaders in the program -- girls who have shown an ability to carry this team on the field and in the dugout.
“We have some seniors and upperclassmen who are really leading us,” he said. “Kylie has been a great player for us. She does everything you ask her to do and does it the best she can. She’s a great leader. Tia has been here a couple years and is turning into a great leader, and Jaden.”
The key now is getting others to realize that they too can take on that responsibility.
“You have people you have back that you expect that (leadership) from,” Stigman said. “It’s the new people or those who aren’t that familiar that you have to bring along. We’ve had good leaders in the past where when they were gone they had someone step in and fill those shoes. That’s what we’re trying to develop now with these kids is, ‘This is you now. You’re on the other side. You have to do what others did for you.’” That takes some time.”
Through three games, Osakis has a couple wins under its belt and is hopeful that can lead to many more down the road.
“You always want to finish on a high note,” Anderson said. “Last season was kind of bittersweet. We didn’t get the finish that we wanted to, so this year it’s kind of a big thing for us to step up our game and make sure we’re all together in this and focused on the one goal of making sure we do the best we can.”