When opposing coaches talk about Lakeville North, they start with junior pitcher Kaitlyn Young.
Young is among the state’s elite. She throws hard, with pitches that reach 65 mph or faster. And she’s improved from last season, when she led a young Panthers squad to the Class 4A state tournament. “Her control is better,” Lakeville North coach Mike Schultz said. “And she’s improved on her changeup a lot.”
But if junior shortstop Jenna Beckstrom doesn’t slow down, she’s going to force her way into the conversation right alongside Young.
Beckstrom hit .512 with 12 home runs last season and started this season with two home runs in two at-bats in a 10-0 five-inning April 8 victory over Burnsville. A third-year starter for the Panthers, Beckstrom has committed to the University of Minnesota.
Beckstrom could spell trouble for a former Gopher when the Panthers (1-0, 1-0) play at Eastview (2-0, 2-0) on Wednesday. Sydney Dwyer, who hit .275 with eight home runs in helping Minnesota to a 41-17 record as a senior last spring, is the new head coach of a young Lightning squad.
Dwyer inherited some skilled players, including junior pitcher Missy Loomis and ninth-grade slugger MacKenzie Jacobson, who already has left an impression on some opposing coaches. “I wish she was a senior,” Schultz said with a laugh.
Jacobson, Eastview’s shortstop and leadoff batter, has four hits, five runs scored and a home run in the Lightning's 2-0 start — which includes a 14-1, five-inning victory April 9 over Burnsville.