Softball: Elks (15-3) host Big Lake noon Monday in playoff title, home finale

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

In the final home game of an outstanding season, Elk River softball will open playoffs today (Monday, Memorial Day) against Big Lake at noon.

The No. 2 seeded Elks (15-3) will face the defending section champions in No. 4 seeded Big Lake (15-7). The Hornets rode a freshman pitcher, Jaiden Lund, to state last year and she of course is leading them again, also an excellent hitter.

“Big Lake graduated a couple  of their big hitters, but I think they’re still better than their record,” said Elk coach Stacey Sheetz.

The Elks won their sudden-death round game 13-0 over Sauk Rapids-Rice last week. There are eight teams left and it’s all double-elimination from now on.

The tournament will be completed Wednesday and Thursday in Bemidji. Section policy is for the top-seeded team to be host.

Bemidji was 16-3 and the Elks 14-3 in the regular season and got the nod because their winning percentage was slightly better, even though the Elks played a stronger schedule and are ranked No. 5 in Class 3A while Bemidji is unranked. The Elks three losses were by 2-1 and 6-5  to No. 2 ranked Maple Grove and 4-3 to No. 8 ranked Anoka.

The difference between a one and two seed in this case is having to make a 200-mile trip at least  once and (the Elks hope) twice.