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HomeSportHigh SchoolTouching Base with the Silver Bay Softball Team

Touching Base with the Silver Bay Softball Team

After a tough loss in a close game during their open­er against Mesabi East on April 4th, the Silver Bay Mariners softball team has slid into a five-game win­ning streak.

“We’re probably surprising everybody how well we’re doing because we had a re­ally good team last year,” said Head Coach Mike Guzzo. Last season, the team had a 19-5 record and lost in the section finals. “This year is quite young. There are lots of seventh graders and ninth graders.”

Mariners ladies discussing winning strategies, maybe? (Photo credit: Ayla Simonson)

There were six seniors on the team last year. This year, there are two. Their coach calls seniors Ka­tie Carpenter and Brooke Velcheff “leaders of our team.” Velcheff is an out­fielder. “She does a nice job for us,” said Coach Guzzo.

Carpenter is part of the pitcher/catcher combos that Coach Guzzo has stated are a strength for the team this year. She catches for Madison Ollman, who is a sophomore. She also plays shortstop. The other pow­erful combo is freshman Berkley Hoff at the mound with seventh grader Kinley Nelson catching.

In the opening game, the Mariners had a 9-6 lead but lost in the bottom of the 7th to the Giants with a final score of 10-9.

But then, “We got ‘er roll­ing,” said Coach Guzzo. On April 8th, they beat Mt. Iron 7-6. They went on to win against Northwoods by a whopping 14-2 on Friday, April 12th. The next day, they took on Two Harbors and again took the win, this time 8-1.

The April 15th game against Ely proved to be a bit closer. The Mariners jumped out to a 5-0 lead, but Ely tied it up in the fourth. The score went back and forth, but the game was won when Callie Ernest, a freshman, hit a double and Lilly Ernest, also a fresh­man, knocked her in with a single. Hoff pitched a good game. She gave up 7 runs, 5 earned, and had 9 strike­outs. The final score was 8-7.

The next game, played against Duluth East, was a shutout. The coach report­ed the top hitters as Kinley Nelson, Callie Ernest, and Lilly Ernest. Kinley Nelson was 3 for 4 with a double and scored 3 runs. Callie Ernest was 3 for 4 with a double, 2 RBIs, and scored 2 runs. Lilly Ernest was 2 for 4 with a double, 1 RBI, and 2 runs. The game ended with a 10-0 score.

“The youth have really sur­prised me with how they’ve brought some hitting to the line up early in the season that I didn’t think we’d have,” said Coach Guzzo. “I was hoping for a winning season at the beginning of the season and now I’m hoping we can compete in the sections. I think we’re right now probably a top 5 or 6 team in the section, so we’ll see how that shakes out the rest of the season.”

The team has a strong coaching staff with Coach Guzzo focusing on infield skills, Kelly Ollila (who is also the school’s athletic director) helping in the out­field, Mike Hoff coaching the pitchers, Hannah LeB­lanc assisting the hitters, and Jeff Asmussen who fills in everywhere and any­where. “It’s kind of key if you have a good staff and people who can work to­gether,” said Coach Guzzo. “That’s why we have a win­ning program.”

In the 25 years Guzzo has been coaching, he has only seen one losing season of softball for the Mariners. “We generally put a pretty good team on the field,” he said. “We have a pretty high bar for this program.”

Reaching that high bar re­quires dedicated players, dedicated coaches, and a dedicated community. The Mariners are definitely 3 for 3 there and I have no doubt they are in for an im­pressive run this year. Good luck team!

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