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Shakopee’s softball team took to the field 38 years ago. The players’ uniforms consisted of a jersey with only a number on the back, blue jeans and spikes.
The Sabres’ coach then is the same man who is guiding them today, Neil Johnson. He recently won his 500th career game in a 22-1 victory over Holy Angels in the second game of a Missota Conference doubleheader. The Sabers also won the opener 8-0.
“The game has certainly come a long way with players as young as 8 years old having full uniforms and matching bags now,” said Johnson, who is the fifth prep softball coach in state history to reach the 500-win plateau.
Two days after reaching the milestone, Shakopee wrapped up its fifth consecutive conference title by splitting a doubleheader at second-place Farmington. Johnson’s squad entered its final regular season game of the season with an overall record of 17-2.
“I have enjoyed teaching the game of fast-pitch softball to all levels and watching the eyes of players when something goes the way it was supposed to go,” Johnson said.
He has guided the Sabres to three state tournament appearances, the most recent coming in 2011.
“I have been blessed with many athletes who just wanted to play the game and played hard doing it.”
Two schools accepted
Two schools from the disbanding Missota Conference have found a new home in familiar place.
The Big Nine Conference recently voted to add former members Northfield and Red Wing to the 10-team league starting with the 2014-15 school year.
A third applicant from the Missota Conference, New Prague, was denied approval into the Big Nine. New Prague has also applied for membership into the newly forming Metro West Conference and Wright County Conference.
• New Prague senior Jack Pexa shot a 4-under-par 68 to win the Chaska Invitational at the Chaska Town Course. The St. Cloud State University recruit has finished as the Missota Conference regular season runner-up in each of the past two seasons. He also won the New Prague Invitational later in the week.
• Lakeville North senior midfielder Hannah Koloski has been a scoring machine for the girls’ lacrosse team in her final season. Koloski netted a season-best seven goals in a 26-6 victory over Eagan in South Suburban Conference play. She is averaging four goals per game (48 goals in 12 games). this season.