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Sensational Season for the Silver Bay Softball Team

When I got ahold of Coach Mike Guzzo, I had to confess, I am not a softball expert and I’d need his assistance to write this article. When I asked if he could tell me about the recent games and this year’s team, he was more than willing to do so. In our conver­sation, he explained dif­ferent verbiage, repeat­ed himself when I asked, and patiently waited for me to write down notes.

I can tell the Coach is a pretty nice guy, but I know part of why he was willing to put up with me is because of how proud he is of the team.

“They deserve recognition,” he told me.

I couldn’t agree more, and I’ll do my best to do the team justice.

Though the season came to a close for the Silver Bay softball team with a 5-0 loss to Moose Lake/Willow River on Thursday (6/1/23), no one can deny it was an excellent year for the Mariners, who ended the season with a 19-5-0 record.

“I’ve been coaching 23 years and I’ve had a lot of good teams,” Coach Guzzo recalled. “This one was a good one, too.”

When the Section 7A Playoffs began on Tuesday (5/23), the team wowed the crowds by scoring thirteen runs. The game finished with the

Mariners taking a 13-2 win against Floodwood in five innings.

That Thursday, the team lost in what was a “hard fought game,” according to Coach Guzzo. South Ridge won by one, with a final score of 3-2 in 9 innings. Immediately after, (author’s note, how do these young wom­en play two games in a day?) they played Northwoods and won by a whopping 9-1 fi­nal score. This win kept them in and ready to rock and roll in Grand Rapids the following Tuesday.

That’s when, Coach says, “it started get­ting exciting.” The Mariners took revenge on South Ridge and won 8-7 in a very close game. At that point, there were 4 teams left and the Mariners held onto their adrenaline right into the next game.

Against Cherry, Hope Ernest was on the pitcher’s mound. In 7 innings she gave away 2 runs (1 earned), 7 hits, 1 walk, and had 1 strikeout. Her teammate, Brooke Velcheff, stepped up to the plate to hit a BIG DOUBLE in the 7th inning with 2 RBI’s. This brought the team to a 3-1 lead. A final score of 4-2 bumped Cherry out.

Rolling with the momentum, the third game of the night (another author’s note: okay, three games now???) against Carlton brought another win. Hope Ernest was at her best once again, pitching 6 hits, 2 walks, no runs, and 4 strikeouts. Danika Thompson hit a double to bring in Madison Ollman and Hope Ernest. With a final score of 2-0, the team was ready to play for the Sectional Championship.

#1 seed Moose Lake/Willow River took that honor, however, on the June 1st game played at Braun Park in Cloquet. It was a good game. The score was 2-0 in the 6th in­ning when the leadoff hitter Nysjah Duncan had a single, but got stranded on base.

“It is a huge honor to make it that far for such a small program,” Coach Mike Guzzo said.

Speaking of honors…. Four of the Mariner Softball Players made All Conference Play­ers. Hope Ernest, Dan­ika Thompson, Katie Carpenter, and Madison Ollman will be play­ing in the Polar League All Conference All Star Game on June 20th.

Hope Ernest made State All Star and will play in the State All Star game in Mankato on June 11th. She also had an Honorable Mention for All State 2nd base. Danika Thompson made 2nd Team All State Short Stop.

And there’s more…. Coach Guzzo and I discussed how much pressure these student athletes are under. Their dedication to the sport takes them hours away from home (on school nights!), travel­ing from Silver Bay all over Northern Minne­sota. They spend a lot of time on the road and in the field on top of all their schoolwork and, well, being a teenager.

And yet, this team excelled in their edu­cation. Excelled isn’t even a good enough word. The Team qualified for the Minneso­ta State High School Coaches Association’s Gold Level for Academic Excellence. This award requires the team to have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.75 and above. The Mari­ners average GPA? 3.85.

Oh, and also… four members of the team won the Academic All State Award, which requires Seniors to have a GPA of 3.75 or more. Congratulations to Hope Ernest, Dan­ika Thompson, Laura Sullivan, and Natalie Kaiser.

Congratulations to all the players, coaches, parents, families, friends, and to Silver Bay for a great season!

(Last author’s note: Thank you all for your patience as I learn all the things! Thank you especially to Coach Guzzo who is teaching me already.)

Feel Free to contact sarahwritesnsj@yahoo.com with any news we should news about!

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