Softball: Thunder embrace senior star after 13-12 loss to Irish ends season

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

When the Zimmerman softball season ended with a seventh-inning home run by Maple Lake on Thursday, the young Thunder team tearfully embraced their lone senior, Gabby Antolak, who had a brilliant final game to her five-year career.

“The girls were all crying except Gabby. They all huddled around her and everybody hugged her. She had the only dry eyes on the field,” said coach Emily Zahn. “That’s Gabby. She doesn’t show what she feels.”

Gabby Antolak
Gabby Antolak

In the marathon 13-12 loss, Antolak, a six-foot catcher, went 4-for-5 with two home runs (a solo and two-run shot) and picked a runner off third base with bases loaded, in the sub-section game at Maple Lake. She batted over .550 with five homers this year.

However, the Irish (19-4) smacked three homers of their own, including Emily Webb’s two-out blast off Ashley Pool in the last of the seventh. Molly Scheiber slugged a three-run homer and Chloe Callahan a two-run homer earlier.

The Thunder finished 12-9, with their whole roster to return except their MVP, who’ll play for Minnesota-Crookston.

“The girls wanted so much to win another game for her,” said Zahn.

This game was a stark contrast to their meeting a day earlier when Maple Lake nipped the Thunder 2-1 with Callahan besting McKenna Butau in the pitchers’ duel. The Thunder stayed alive beating Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted 18-1 later Wednesday.

Pool started and finished the game, yielding eight runs, and Butau gave up five runs in the middle innings. Callahan relieved in the fifth and got the win, after the Thunder scored 10 runs off another Irish pitcher.

Kayla Peterson was 3-for-5 and score three runs for the Thunder. Maddie Jacob got aboard four times on two walks, a hit-by-pitch and fielder’s choice, and scored two runs.