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Maple Grove shuts out Northwest Suburban rival Centennial in lightning-shortened contest

By Matthew Davis, SportsEngine, 05/14/19, 2:00PM CDT

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Pitcher Ava Dueck led the Crimson from the circle and with her bat Tuesday, as she tossed a shutout and smashed two home runs to drive in all her team's runs.

Ava Dueck sends the ball over the left field fence in the bottom of the first inning. Dueck added a two-run homer in the third to give Maple Grove a 3-0 win over Centennial on Tuesday night. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Ava Dueck sends the ball over the left field fence in the bottom of the first inning. Dueck added a two-run homer in the third to give Maple Grove a 3-0 win over Centennial on Tuesday night. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Two senior starting softball players for Maple Grove wear quarterback wristbands but the Crimson, ranked No. 4 in the Class 4A state coaches’ poll, don’t have the softball equivalent of a quarterback controversy.

“We make a really great team,” said senior pitcher Ava Dueck of herself and senior catcher Sophie Culhane. “We come from different backgrounds as far as summer ball, and we have different philosophies, but going in together, we worked together and we’ve been playing a long time.”  

Crimson coach Jim Koltes introduced the wristbands to them as a way to communicate what pitch and/or fielding decisions to make next. College pitchers and catchers often use the wristbands, he said.

“It just helps us, connecting with our coach better, and sort of gives more secrecy because hand signs area easy to pick off,” Culhane said. “It just makes the game a little more complicated and complex.”

Centennial (15-4, 10-4) made things a little complicated early for Maple Grove (16-2, 11-1) in their Northwest Suburban Conference showdown on Tuesday evening at Sand Creek Park in Coon Rapids. The No. 5-4A Cougars loaded the bases in the first inning, but Dueck struck out three consecutive batters to get out of the jam.

Maple Grove went on to win 3-0 in the late-season conference showcase, which ended in the sixth inning due to lightning.

Pitcher Ava Dueck and catcher Sophie Culhane celebrate after shutting down Centennial's best scoring chance of the game. With the bases loaded, Dueck threw a pair of strikeouts to end the top of the first inning. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SporstEngine

Pitcher Ava Dueck and catcher Sophie Culhane celebrate after shutting down Centennial's best scoring chance of the game. With the bases loaded, Dueck threw three consecuive strikeouts to end the top of the first inning. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SporstEngine

First Report

Maple Grove senior pitcher Ava Dueck got out of an early jam and led her team to a 3-0 win over Centennial, ranked No. 5 in the Class 4A state coaches’ poll, on Tuesday evening at Sand Creek Park.

Dueck struck out three consecutive batters to get out of the top of the first inning with the bases loaded. She came up even bigger in the bottom of the first with a solo home run to give the No. 4-4A Crimson (16-2, 11-1) a 1-0 lead over their Northwest Suburban Conference rival.

Centennial senior pitcher Alyssa Montero kept the Crimson in check otherwise. She struck out seven batters in five innings.

Dueck racked up outs in the top of the second and third innings with another five strikeouts. Then, she hit her second home run, a two-run shot, in the bottom of the third to capture a 3-0 lead over the Cougars (15-4, 10-4).

The game was called in the sixth inning due to lightning.

Coryn Jacobson got on base twice for the Cougars but was stranded at third base both times. Centennial fell to Maple Grove 3-0 to close out the Northwest Suburban Conference Showcase. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

Coryn Jacobson got on base twice for the Cougars but was stranded at third base both times. Centennial fell to Maple Grove 3-0 to close out the Northwest Suburban Conference Showcase. Photo by Cheryl Myers, SportsEngine

The MN Softball Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only. 

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