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PERFECT! Elk Mound girls win conference with 18-0 record

COLFAX – When the Elk Mound softball team hosted the Colfax Vikings in the final regular season game of the year in a makeup contest May 22, they already had the Dunn-St. Croix Conference title all sewn up. Starting the day with a 17-0 conference record, the only thing left to decide was whether they would end with a zero or a one in the loss column.

The Vikings were sitting in the middle of the pack at 8-10, hoping to build some momentum before regional tournaments start this week, and of course beating their neighbors and giving them their only conference loss would make for a rather enjoyable ride back to Colfax. Rest assured, these Mounders had no intention of letting that happen as they used excellent pitching, timely hits and solid defense to not only shut the Vikings out, but did so in five innings by a score of 10-0. It is the first conference title since 2006 for the Mounders and the first for head coach Dylan Pronschinske.

The pitching came by way of Dayna Kotecki who just 24 hours earlier threw a five inning no hitter in a win over St. Croix Central. Kotecki had another no-hitter going against these Vikings until the fifth inning when a bunt single with two outs broke her streak. With nine strikeouts and no walks, Kotecki won her 20th game of the season against a pair of non-conference losses.

“We played against the best pitcher in the league and we couldn’t catch up to anything she was throwing,” Colfax coach Rich Meredith said. “Three of our four seniors have hit against her for four years and today (Kotecki) had it all going for her.”

The scoring started from the get go but not on base hits when the first two balls off the Mounders bats resulted in an error on the Colfax left fielder and another on the shortstop allowing the Mounders to go up 1-0. But the hits started coming in the second as Emily Ausman sent a line drive single to left, Morgan Polden advanced her with a bunt, Jade Sorenson drew a walk off Colfax hurler Lakken Meredith and Abbey Olson spanked a double to right for an RBI. Lexi Delong sent a hard smash to the shortstop that was fielded but the throw to first went over the fence and two runs scored to make it 4-0. Meredith got the final two batters of the inning out on a pop up and a long fly ball to Karina Wait in center to get out of the inning.

Kotecki whiffed two of the three batters she faced in the third and forced a ground ball out in between and the Mounders went back to work offensively. Lauren Scharlau drew a leadoff walk and moved up on a passed ball, Kotecki sent a ball over second base that went off the fielder’s glove and Ausman brought both runners in on another solid shot up the middle. Polden bunted her over to second and Olson promptly brought her home on yet another shot to center. A final pop up to Meredith left Elk Mound up 7-0.

A pop up and two more Ks on the Viking’s part made for a short time on the bench and the Mounders didn’t waste any time getting back into the swing of things as Delong led off the fourth with a basehit through the infield, Nigon bunted and was safe on an errant throw, allowing her to go to second, Scharlau walked and Ausman plated a pair with a smack to left field. And on senior day for the Mounders, it was appropriate  one of those seniors, Brianna Edington, knocked in the tenth and final run of the game with a hit over second base.

Wait, who has used the bunt quite successfully as a way to get on base throughout the season, laid a perfect one down to try and keep the game going but Kotecki reared back and ended the game on a three pitch strikeout to the next batter.

“This was a great finish to the conference season,” coach Pronschinske said. “Some of our seniors have played four years of varsity ball and they beat Pepin-Alma for the first time and went undefeated in the conference. Dayna has been in a zone the past couple of weeks and our whole team has been hitting well.Add that to our sharp defense and it produces wins. We need to carry this over to regional and hopefully sectional play next week.”

Ausman finished 3 for 3 at the plate with four RBIs, Olson was 2 for 2, both two baggers with two RBIs, Delong slammed a pair of doubles and Edington added an RBI on a basehit.

Meredith gave up eight hits, with three free passes and one strikeout.

Colfax begins regional play at Durand, Tuesday, May 26 while Elk Mound, the number two seed will host Mondovi the same day.

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