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.