Photo by SportsEngine
We task our reporters with identifying several intriguing games throughout the state to assemble our Top Games of the Week. The matchups are presented in no particular order, and when there are additional games we want to highlight, we’ll include them with brief notes.
Sydney Schwartz is one of those players you just can't remember ever being unaware of. She made her varsity debut with Chanhassen as a seventh-grader in 2017, and she is little sister to Storm star Maddie Schwartz.
She played in one varsity game that season as the Storm went to the state tournament and beat Woodbury in the Class 4A third-place game. In the years since, the hard-hitting pitcher has become one of the state's most well-known players.
But Schwartz is nearing the end of her high school career. She's committed to playing at Minnesota next season, and she will leave behind a trail of statistics and memories when her high school career comes to an end in another month.
Chanhassen (6-0, 4-0) takes on Eden Prairie (6-1, 5-0) in a showdown of Class 4A, Section 2 rivals on Thursday night.
Schwartz takes an otherworldly .789 (15 for 19) batting average and a 1.46 earned run average into the game. In four-plus varsity seasons (her sophomore season, 2020, was canceled because of the pandemic), her career numbers include:
• A .523 batting average. She has 127 hits in 235 at-bats and has three seasons with at least 35 hits.
• 25 home runs, including four in her 19 at-bats this spring, and 98 RBIs. She drove in 25 as an eighth-grader, 30 as a freshman and 32 as a junior. She has 11 so far this season.
• A 45-6 record as a pitcher that includes a 1.54 ERA. She went 21-3 last spring with an ERA of 1.00 and struck out 295 batters. She has 51 strikeouts in 38 1/3 innings this season and 513 in her career.
It's clear that Schwartz will be missed next spring by her team and high school softball fans in general. But do the Storm already have a Schwartz replacement?
Freshman third baseman Susie Tollefson isn't the dual pitching-hitting threat that Schwartz is, but she's already one of the state's better hitters. After batting .432 with 38 hits and two home runs as an eighth-grader last season, Tollefson has 10 hits in 21 at-bats and three doubles in six games this season.
Eden Prairie, meanwhile, doesn't have the name recognition that belongs to Chanhassen, but the Eagles are having an under-the-radar season with six victories in their first seven games. They started the season looking up at ranked rivals such as Shakopee and Minnetonka in Section 2 but have played their way into contenders behind seniors Piper Lange, Alexa Mann and Priya Wolf.
A tough week for the Eagles opens Monday with a game against Hopkins.
St. Charles reached the Class 2A state championship game last spring and started this spring with a reasonable chance of making it back to that game in 2022. Chatfield players are doing everything they can to make sure that doesn't happen.
The Gophers (6-1, 1-1) already have one victory over St. Charles, a 3-2 decision in what was the season-opener for the Saints (5-1, 2-1). Junior Claire Springer struck out nine, and Kara Goetzinger and Devann Clemens each had two hits in the victory. Senior Peyton Berg drew a pair of walks, doubled and drove in a run.
A victory this week would give Chatfield a leg up in the conference race and a jolt of confidence heading into the Class 2A, Section 1 playoffs.
But the Saints, who lost to LeSeuer-Henderson in last spring's Class 2A title game, are a talented, young and experienced group led by pitcher Brenna Koeppel (4-1, 0.85 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 33 innings), third baseman Lauryn Delger (.474, two home runs, 12 RBIs) and catcher Grace Buringa (.421, five RBIs), all juniors.
St. Anthony has more than lived up to its preseason ranking (No. 4 in Class 3A) through the first third of the season. The Huskies are unbeaten (8-0, 3-0) and have outscored opponents 101-8.
Holy Angels (3-0, 0-0), ranked 15th in Class 3A in the preseason, has played well in a bad weather-plagued season.
The teams meet on Wednesday afternoon in Richfield.
Ellie Peterson and Tuscany Ballot are performing as veterans of a 23-win team in 2021 would be expected. Peterson has a 6-0 record as a pitcher with a 0.78 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 36 innings. She's batting .531 with five doubles and 18 RBIs. Ballot is batting .467 with four doubles, a triple, three home runs and 16 RBIs.
But it's Anaya Boseman who is giving the Huskies perhaps more than expected. She's batting .667 (16 for 24) with three doubles, four home runs and 15 RBIs.
That's a lineup that will be a challenge, to say the least, for Stars junior pitcher Leah Cierzan, who carries a 4.85 ERA into the game. She has struck out 10 and walked five in 13 innings and is hitting .364 with four RBIs.
Expectations were muted for Blaine at the beginning of the season. A Bengals team that won 15 games in 2021 lost a core group of seniors that included all-state outfielder Jordyn Peterson, who now is at Minnesota.
Those expectations are growing, along with the freshmen Emmie Sylvia-Cochran and Emily Vogel. The Bengals (8-2, 6-1) now sit a half-game below highly regarded Maple Grove (7-1, 7-1) in the Northwest Suburban Conference standings and have a chance this week to overtake the Crimson in the conference title race.
Sylvia-Cochran was half of the Bengals' pitching tandem as an eighth-grader and she's joined this season by junior Emma Edwards. Vogel is batting .280 with nine RBIs and a home run in her first varsity season.
Edwards' production has increased over 2021. She has a 4-0 record with 21 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings pitched, and she's batting .250 with five RBIs. Senior Jade Bryant and junior Kaitlyn Way continue to play well for the Bengals.
Blaine's only losses have come against Hopkins and Champlin Park. But Maple Grove will be the Bengals' toughest test yet.
The Crimson have outscored opponents 67-6 this season and have four shutouts. Maple Grove's only loss was a 3-2 decision at Centennial on April 19.
Wabasso vs. Sleepy Eye St. Mary's, 4:30 p.m., Thursday, May 5. Want to know about Wabasso? Rabbits pitcher Avery Carlson is 6-1 with a 6.56 ERA. Sleepy Eye scored 38 runs in its first three games. There could be a lot of action on the field.
Lakeville South at Rosemount, 4:30 p.m., Thursday, May 5. This week will tell us a lot about a Lakeville South team (2-2, 2-2) with a Class 4A Section 1 championship goal. Games against Shakopee, Eastview and Lakeville North precede a matchup of top-tier pitchers Madeline Nutter and Jessa Snippes on Thursday at Rosemount (6-0, 6-0).
The MN Softball Hub poll is for entertainment purposes only.