St.-Michael-Albertville hit a speed bump last week in a race to what could be its first Mississippi 8 Blue Division championship since 2013. Losses to No. 1-2A Maple Lake and conference rival Buffalo ended a nine-game winning streak and left the Knights in a tie for the league lead with Rogers.
And so Thursday's showdown at Rogers could be a winner-take-all affair. Each team has a conference game earlier in the week, the Knights (14-3, 5-1) at home against Monticello while Rogers (11-2, 5-1) plays Big Lake.
St. Michael-Albertville coach Kellie Shumway isn't too worried that her team has lost its momentum heading into the last week of the regular season and the section tournaments after that. "I love that when things are not going great, this team comes together and regroups," she said.
The Knights' 2013 conference champion had a .500 regular season. This year's team won 14 of its first 15 games.
Senior Molly Wilde (a second-year captain hitting .404 with four home runs and 21 RBI), junior Elle Potts (.439 with two home runs and and 23 RBI) and freshman shortstop Emma Miller (.404 with 15 RBI) have kept the Knights offense running. Elise Weinzierl (9-2, 1.30 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 70 innings pitched) and Paige Holm (5-1, 1.47 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 39 innings) form a solid pitching duo.
Wilde drove in four runs when the Knights handed Rogers its only conference loss of the season, 7-2, on April 29.
Sophomore Grace Mammen could pose the biggest threat to the Knights. Mammen has 120 strikeouts in 84 innings pitched and a 1.50 ERA.