Ely on a softball hot streak

Wolves on track for high seed and home playoff game Tuesday

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school softball team may be peaking at exactly the right time.
The Timberwolves have rattled off six straight victories and are heading into this week’s section playoffs with a full head of steam.
Seeding won’t be determined until the weekend, but it’s likely that Ely will be seeded second or third in the north half of Section 7A and host a playoff game at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at the high school softball field.
Little more than a week ago, the Wolves were at the .500 mark and had given up runs in bunches, but their pitching settled in and the bats have warmed, leading a streak that has resulted in an 11-5 record.
The biggest win in the stretch was probably the first: a 5-2 upset at Class AA power Eveleth-Gilbert on May 9.
Junior pitching ace Erika Mattson had pinpoint control.
She didn’t walk a batter while going the distance and scattered seven hits, while getting the benefit of solid defense.
All of the scoring came in the final three innings, with Abby Rabe’s run-scoring hit getting the Wolves on the board in the fifth.
Mattson and Sydni Richards drove in runs in the sixth while Rachel Coughlin’s two-run single in the seventh provided insurance.
It was more than enough cushion for Mattson, who struck out five and helped her own cause with two hits.
The win seemed to ignite the Wolves, who followed up the next day with a split doubleheader sweep at home.
Mattson fired a five-hitter as the Wolves completed a season sweep of North Woods, prevailing 6-3. The righthander notched nine strikeouts.
Flom, Richards and Kaercher all had two hits and Merhar added a triple.
The Wolves needed only four innings to dispose of Floodwood, cruising 15-0.
Mattson had three hits, including two doubles, and led the offense with four runs batted in.
Merhar and Richards both contributed three hits to the attack, combining for four runs batted in.
Flom and senior Lida Dodge scored three runs each as Merhar tossed the shutout, yielding three hits.
Monday provided a bit of revenge for the Wolves as they turned the tables on Mt. Iron-Buhl, bouncing back from a season-opening loss to defeat the Rangers 3-1.
Mattson took a shutout into the seventh and finished with a three-hitter, fanning nine.
Ely got all three of its runs in the bottom of the third, as Coughlin, Adrianna Bishop and Flom had consecutive hits.
Dodge drove in a run with a groundout, setting the stage for Merhar’s key blow: a two-run double.
Ely went to Babbitt Tuesday and dodged the rain drops long enough to win 13-2 in five innings against Northeast Range.
Mattson and Merhar combined on a three-hitter, with Mattson striking out seven in the first three innings of work.
Coughlin paced the offense with three hits, two runs scored and two RBI.
Flom added three hits with two runs scored and Merhar ripped two hits and knocked in three runners.
Kaercher followed in the Ely hit parade with two hits and two RBI, and Charlize Carlson came off the bench to hit a run-scoring double.
• Cherry and Carlton are likely to have the top seeds in the 7A playoffs, which continue Thursday at Grand Rapids as the tournament moves into the double-elimination phase.