The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

June 10, 2010

Cougars set for state

East takes 10-game winning streak into state softball tournament

MANKATO — Mankato East freshman second baseman Carolyn Osdoba experienced a couple of detours on her way to gaining a spot on the Cougars’ varsity softball team, but the results so far have been well worth it.

After opening the season playing on the junior varsity team, Osdoba made her debut at third base when catcher E.J. Scharmer suffered a wrist injury and regular third baseman Savannah Quandt moved to catcher. Osdoba, who was the flex player and didn’t hit for a handful of games, pitched a game before becoming a fixture at second base the last half of the season.

“We knew Carolyn was a good player and second base was her best position,” East coach Joe Madson said. “I wanted to get her some at JV at bats but we felt all along that she’d have a good chance of making it into the lineup. I knew defensively she would give us a lift but she’s also come up with some big hits and moved the ball nicely.

“She is a very smart, level-headed kid who is always positive. She absorbs everything and never hangs her head when she makes a mistake. She is very mature and is a student of the game.”

Osdoba is hitting .250 with eight RBIs and is one reason the Cougars won 12 of their final 13 games and are riding a 10-game winning streak heading into today’s 11 a.m. state Class AA quarterfinal game against Otter Tail Central (24-1). East will take a 17-8 overall record into the eight-team single-elimination tournament played at Caswell Park.

"I think it has been a good fit for me,” Osdoba said after Wednesday’s practice at Thomas Park. “I was getting kind of frustrated moving around so much, but I really wanted to work my way into the varsity lineup. My main part is defense, I am comfortable at second base and am usually pretty solid there.

“Once I started hitting I felt more part of the team and the game. I just try to hit it hard somewhere and not pop-up, just make the other team make the play. I think our hitting has been the big thing. It seems like we don’t stop one we get a few runs, we keep hitting. Now, we want to win it all.”

While Osdoba has been instrumental in the Cougars’ impressive turnaround, she’s had plenty of help from her teammates, led by senior Christa Wolner, Scharmer, Karli DesLauriers and Hallie Enderle. Wolner leads the team with a .379 average and 14 RBIs, while Scharmer is at .340 with three home runs and a team-best 16 RBIs.

DesLauriers, a junior shortstop, is hitting .325 and is tied with Scharmer for the team lead in runs scored at 17. Enderle has driven in 13 runs and is batting .325 while playing a stellar center field. Quandt is hitting .300, while senior right fielder Nicole Hoffmann is at .270 and freshman first baseman Jordan Kuster is around .220.

Sophomore right-hander Coley Ries has compiled an impressive 0.89 ERA, striking out 152 in the exact number of innings. She is also hitting .225 and has 10 runs driven in.

“I think our confidence level is very high right now,” Madson said. “Early in the season we didn’t come up with the big hit and we kicked the ball around too much. That was a little disheartening, but that part of the season is long gone right now. We struck out a lot early on but we’ve been moving the ball much better and that gives you a better chance of getting things done.”

Senior left fielder Taylor Homan is the flex player for the Cougars, with Wolner doing the hitting.

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