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Seniors leave their mark on Elk Mound softball program

ELK MOUND — With seven seniors on the softball team this year for Elk Mound, the expectations were high after the team reached the sectional semi-finals last season. Although the year ended with another loss to the same Grantsburg team, again in the sectional semi-final game, this group of girls, six of whom were four year varsity players, were key factors in the team posting a 69-32 record (59-16 in conference play) over the past four years. They won regional championships in 2010, 2012 and 2013 and after placing fourth in the conference as freshmen, they moved up to third as sophomores and finished second behind Pepin-Alma the last two seasons.

 Maddy Polden was the starting catcher for four seasons and earned All Dunn-St. Croix Conference accolades each of those years. She was honorable mention her freshman year and moved up to first team as a sophomore and stayed there her junior and senior years. She has also been a first team All District player (by the Wisconsin Softball Coaches Association) several times. Statistics wise, she accumulated 124 hits with 23 doubles, 11 triples and one homerun, brought in 55 runs and stole 12 bases, nine as a senior. Batting leadoff a couple of those years she crossed the plate 85 times, and led the team her sophomore year with 35 hits and eight doubles while posting a .443 batting average. Polden was a member of the Division 3 Black All Star team that played last week in Lake Delton. She will continue to showcase her talents for Division 3 Aurora University in Illinois next year.

Katie Bergh covered ground in the outfield for four years and was also a four time All Conference pick, first team as a junior and senior and second team her junior and senior year. She was also named first team All District as a junior and played with Polden in the All Star game last week. In her junior year she led the Mounders with eight doubles, three round trippers and 24 RBI with a .393 batting average. Her totals over the years were 97 hits, 16 doubles, four homeruns, 70 RBIs and nine stolen bases while scoring 73 times. She intends to attend and play ball at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids, MN next year.

After playing second base and doing some pitching as a freshman, Becca Kopp was a mainstay at the shortstop position her next three years while throwing some from the circle as a sophomore and junior. Kopp solidified the infield and was involved with several double plays while making some pretty spectacular fielding plays including some over the shoulder catches and plenty of diving stops. In her three years at shortstop, she came up with 115 put outs, 148 assists and just 19 errors with a fielding percent average of .933. Pitching wise, she had a record of 8-4 and in 64 2/3 innings and struck out 30 batters while walking 28.  She became a powerhouse in the hitter’s box her senior year, leading the team in hits with 31, in triples with four and in RBIs with 29 while posting a .408 batting average. She also scored 28 times and swiped five bases. In four years, Kopp banged out 99 hits with 13 doubles and four triples while bringing in 74 runs and coming home 75 times. She was a three time All Conference player, honorable mention her sophomore year, second team as a junior and first team this season. She will continue her softball career at Riverland Community College in Austin, MN.

Playing four years on the varsity, Kylynn Simon was a consistent player for the team, from the plate as a designated hitter and while playing first base her senior year. As a freshman, she tied for the RBI lead with 15 and and in four years she crossed the plate 40 times, rapped 59 hits including 13 two base hits and brought in 50 runs while stealing three bases. As a senior she carried a .323 batting average and led the team in put outs with 143. She was named honorable mention All Conference as a senior.

Kaysi Meindel became famous around the league for her slap hitting from the left side of the plate which seemed to work for her as she had an on base percentage of .494 as a senior. She led the team in drawing walks with 15, in runs scored with 30 and in base steals with 13. She knocked out 25 hits with six RBIs and a .379 batting average. In three years of varsity play, Meindel scored 71 times, collected 63 hits with 17 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. (She also led the Mounders in walks with 15 her junior year). She was a first team All Conference and All District pick her junior year and second team A-C player as a senior.

Amanda Ward was an infielder, playing mostly second base in her three years and combined with Kopp for several double plays in those years. In her sophomore year, she led the team in runs scored with 20 and in drawing walks 15 times. She accumulated 50 hits, with four doubles, three triples and one round tripper,  27 RBI, 15 stolen bases and 56 runs scored. She was an All Conference honorable mention pick as a senior.

Three year varsity player Eileen Vasey patrolled the outfield and her most productive year from the plate came as a senior, batting .300 with nine hits and scoring six times. In three seasons she came up with 14 hits, three RBIs and scored 10 times with a pair of stolen bases.

“The seniors have been the pillars of our program since they started youth ball,” Elk Mound coach Kari Kallio said. “They were my first group of kids to come all the way up through the feeder program when I took over. They have an unrivaled work ethic and commitment to softball. They played whenever they could in the off season and if they weren’t playing they were lifting (weights), conditioning and going to camps. It’s not a fluke that we have been so competitive these past four years; it was earned through hard dedication to the sport. These kids will be greatly missed and I wish them the best in their future endeavors,” she added.

Note: All District/State teams had not been posted at the time of this writing.