New Life Academy softball: Youthful Eagles take two steps forward and one step backLast week the NLA softball team finished 2-1, with wins over St. Agnes and Maranatha Christian Academy and a loss to Class AAA club Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, Woodbury Bulletin
Last week the NLA softball team finished 2-1, with wins over St. Agnes and Maranatha Christian Academy and a loss to Class AAA club Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
The Eagles proved to be much too powerful for the overmatched Aggies on Monday, winning 13-0 in five Innings. An impressive two-out, three-run rally by the Eagles in the bottom of the second inning - including consecutive RBI hits by sophomore Amanda Heidmann, and freshmen Valorie Hohol and Malorie Giere - was all NLA needed to put the game away early. Hohol pitched a very strong, complete game 1-hitter - and the only offensive threats generated by the Aggies were snuffed out quickly, once with the strong arm of catcher Giere throwing out a base runner and another with a nifty double-play by seventh-grader Kayla Binsfeld.
On Tuesday, the Eagles faced conference and section rival Maranatha Christian in a matchup between two of the teams expected to be fighting late into the sectional playoffs later this spring.
Maranatha’s fireballer Maddie Lee recorded a total of 15 strikeouts against the Eagles’ batters, but timely hitting and an outstanding three-hit pitching performance by Hohol led to a nice 4-1 victory for NLA.
In the game, after both teams traded errors in the first inning, the score was tied 1-1 on unearned runs. In the second inning, the Eagles mustered a nice two-out rally, started by Giere’s single and finished with junior Nicole Johnson’s smash triple to right center. Then, later in the fifth, a rally was started with freshman Sydney Steele’s infield single and two stolen bases then was continued with a timely pinch-hit RBI single by seventh-grader Mya Binsfeld. After a walk to sophomore Chloe Westlund, who also had three stolen bases on the day, Heidmann drove in another run with a RBI single giving the Eagles a 4-1 lead that held for the rest of the game. The Mustangs’ seventh-inning attempted rally was diffused with good defense by the Eagles, including a very difficult catch made by freshman right-fielder Stacia Butwin.
On Friday, Benilde-St. Margaret’s traveled to Woodbury and dominated the Eagles winning 6-1. NLA could only generate three hits and had difficulty starting anything offensively against the Class AAA school.
But, despite the loss, NLA coach Mick Ramey felt like the Eagles are starting to take shape and are finding out what their strengths are headed into the second half of the season.
NLA is currently 7-5 overall and 5-0 in the conference.
“That’s about where we thought we would be,” Ramey said. “We are a young team, but are coming along nicely and making improvements weekly.”
On Saturday, the Eagles were supposed to play in the North St. Paul tournament but it was postponed due to weather. The Eagles now return their attention to conference play in the next two weeks, hoping to learn from their difficult mid-season, non-conference schedule and get prepared for post-season play.