20 June 2013

Softball: A return to State...and more

Ashley Betzold: All-Everything senior season (photos by Jim Lindquist)
Even with only two seniors on the varsity roster the Tigers put together another outstanding season in 2013.

Coach Paul Harrington's girls finished the year with a 20-7 record, repeated as Section 1AAA champions and earned a second straight berth in the state tournament. Farmington also compiled an 11-3 record and placed runner-up in the Missota Conference race.

"We had to replace our catcher and our entire outfield this season," Harrington said. "Those were some of the big questions we needed to resolve. Some of our kids willingly changed positions and some younger players stepped up and did the job...For as young of a team as we had, we had an awesome season." 

Harrington and his staff awarded 13 varsity letters at the team's post-season awards banquet with only two going to seniors: Ashley Betzold and Toni Hunsinger.

Underclassmen receiving letters included juniors Jordyn Keprios and McKenzie Nelson; sophomores Molly Berdan, Amber Doyle, Kendall Novak, Taylor Yousse, Ashley Ibinger and Jenny Gooddale (manager); freshman Carly Esselman and eighth-graders Maddie Muelken and Emily Berdan.

Amber Doyle: All-Missota, All-Section
Betzold was an all-state selection and made both the Minneapolis StarTribune and St. Paul Pioneer Press all-Metro squads. She and teammates Doyle and Esselman were also selected to the all-Missota Conference team. Hunsinger and Molly Berdan received all-league honorable mention. Betzold, Doyle, Yousse, Esselman and Molly Berdan each received all-section honors.

Betzold made a clean sweep of the team MVP awards, winning both offensive (.400-plus batting average) and defensive (19 pitching victories) categories.

"Ashley is a top-notch pitcher and hitter who did an awesome job of leading us to two straight state tournaments," Harrington said.

Molly Berdan and Esselman shared the Tiger Award for being team players and Emily Berdan was tabbed as the Most Improved Player.

Harrington said the weather-delayed season had many highlights but at the top of the list would have to be the miracle four-run, seventh-inning rally to defeat Hastings in the section tournament.

"Our kids and the fans who witnessed 'The Comeback' will remember it for a long time to come," he said.

Carly Esselman: All-Missota, All-Section
The Tiger coach also liked the spunk his team showed in the final game of the regular when it came back to shutout Missota Conference champion Shakopee in the second game of a doubleheader.

"That set the tone for the post-season," he said.

Harrington said that replacing Betzold and Hunsinger will be a big challenge but he expects more of the same from his 2014 team.

"Like other years, we will tear up last year's results and lineups and see who will win a spot," he said. "Regardless, the experience the girls gained this year should be a big help."