by Bruce Strand, Sports editor
A fast-pitch softball team of mostly Rogers and Elk River athletes won a 16-and-under national tournament in Orlando, FL, last week.
Xtreme98 beat Kentucky Pride 9-4 in the finals of the ESPN USSSA World Series 16A division on Saturday, after which they watched the telecast on ESPN-3.
“We had a pretty exciting week,” acknowledged Jerry Bruns, head coach. “It was a good showing for the kids from the northwest side (of the metro area). They’re all local. We don’t have kids from all over the Twin Cities.”
Bruns, coach of the Rogers Royals, had five of his players on Xtreme 98 — Katelyn Kemmetmueller, Madie Mikolich, Emily Hanford, Melea Bruns, and Elli Anderson.
The squad also included Elk River’s Olivia Wolters, Emma Pieper and Anna Neuman, along with Dani Wolf of Brooklyn Park, Tia Zachman of St. Michael-Albertville, and Hannah Carlson of Rockford.
Xtreme 98 went 7-2 at nationals July 20-26, including one loss in pool play and one to Kentucky Pride (4-3) in the first game of the finals, which forced a second game. They played teams fro North Carolina, New Jersey, Texas, Oklahoma, Kentucky and Minnesota.
Melea Bruns pitched the finals victory. Wolters pitched six games at nationals and Bruns three. Both were No. 2 pitchers on their high school teams, Wolters behind all-state senior Anna Pipenhagen, and Bruns behind Kemmetmueller, who played mostly shortstop for Xtreme98.
“Katelyn was too valuable at shortstop,” said the coach.
Asked about hitting leaders, the coach said, “Madie Mikolich had a heckuva tournament, and Zachman had three homers. But really, a lot of kids all hit really well. We had seven homers.”
Xtreme98, which qualified for nationals at both a tournament last fall and another this summer, had a 35-7 record overall this summer, the coach estimated. Another highlight was winning the Ring Neck Tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., which included multipl states.
This spring, Rogers went 20-3 with just one senior, and the Elks were 16-6, each placing third in their respective sections.