Fall sports season begins

by Tom Coombe
The longest hiatus in the history of Ely High School athletics comes to an end this week.
For the first time in nearly six months, Ely teams will be back in action as the fall sports season begins.
The combined Ely and Northeast Range girls swimming team is first on the docket, hosting International Falls in a 3 p.m. dual meet Tuesday at Babbitt.
The following morning, it’s the season debut for the Timberwolves’ boys and girls cross country teams, who face of with host Virginia and Hibbing at 8 a.m., kicking off the Virginia Triple Tri.
Girls soccer is also part of the Ely lineup for the first time ever, with one Timberwolf joining the Mesabi East Area squad in a newly-formed cooperative.
The fall sports season begins amid unique circumstances - in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and after a spring season that ended last March before it truly began.


The “abnormal” fall season

by Tom Coombe
Ely high school athletes mixed typical with atypical, the usual with a few new twists, normal and abnormal this week.
Mid-August brings the start of fall sports practices and an early sign that summer is nearing its end, and that played out Monday morning across the state including near the U.S. Forest Service headquarters, where Ely’s boys and girls cross country teams gathered officially for the first time this season.
Down the road in Babbitt, members of the combined Northeast Range/Ely girls swimming team dove into the pool to open the 2020-21 campaign.
One Ely athlete also ventured off to Aurora, where the girls soccer team hosted by Mesabi East began its workouts.
But one of the few things typical about the workouts was the calendar, as high school sports began on time but amid strange circumstances, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.


Ely crashes hard in Final Four

A cold day at the plate and a few defensive breakdowns brought Ely’s Senior Babe Ruth (Legion) baseball season to an abrupt halt.
After losing just twice in 20 contests, Ely fell twice in a matter of hours Saturday at Aurora, during the Eighth District Division II Final Four.
Esko scored nine runs in the last three innings to prevail 10-1 in a winners’ bracket tilt, while Eveleth scored six runs in the top of the sixth to rally for a 7-3 victory in the elimination bracket.
Ely, which finished 18-4, scored only four runs on the day after exploding for 15 runs and 17 hits just two days earlier.
On defense, Ely committed six errors in a disastrous sixth inning against Eveleth.
“It was the wrong time to have a bad day,” said Ely Head Coach Tom Coombe. “We had played so well, but things just snowballed on Saturday. It was one thing after another.”
Ely couldn’t solve Esko ace Noah Furcht in the opener.


Split verdict for fall sports, dates set in Ely

The landscape of high school fall sports has changed dramatically, in Ely and across the state.
While some activities will start as scheduled next week, both football and volleyball will be moved to the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, following action Tuesday by the Minnesota State High School League.
In a series of rulings that sent shockwaves across the high school sports community, the MSHSL board voted to allow boys and girls cross country, girls swimming and soccer to proceed during the fall season, with some restrictions.
But both football and volleyball, which are considered higher-risk activities than the sports allowed to proceed, will move to a condensed spring season tentatively set for mid-March through early-May.
The traditional spring sports, such as baseball, softball, track and golf, will slide back to a fourth activity season that will run from May, past the end of the school year and perhaps into July.


Ely Legion Alumni Game

The Ely Legion Alumni Game was held late Saturday, after weather-related delays.


Alumni game, Vets’ night set for ballpark Former players invited back tonight, veterans event set for Saturday, Aug. 1

Two summer traditions at Veterans Memorial Field will continue, even in a baseball season that’s been disrupted by the coronavirus.
Tonight, about 20 former Ely American Legion baseball players will compete in the annual Ely Alumni Game, set for 7 p.m. at the historic ballpark.
Next Saturday, Aug. 1, all veterans are invited to the field for the annual Veterans Day and program, which is tentatively set for 2:30 p.m., just prior to Ely’s first game in the Senior Babe Ruth playoffs.
Both events have become staples of the ballpark schedule, and will go on this year in a summer baseball season that has been assembled hastily, after spring seasons were wiped out because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Hot streak for Ely Juniors

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s 14-and-under baseball team was cooled down a bit on Wednesday night, but only after a five-game winning streak.
International Falls scored 10 runs in the top of the seventh and rallied for a 15-8 victory over Ely in Iron Range Baseball action at Veterans Memorial Field.
The defeat came after several strong performances, including an 8-2 win at Greenway on Monday and a lopsided doubleheader sweep of Cook County on July 16,
Ely (7-6) rode the pitching of Brecken Sandberg at Greenway.
The righthander struck out 10 while going the distance, allowing just one hit.
A four-run explosion in the first provided all the offense Sandberg would need.
A two-run single by Caid Chittum was the key blow, and both Deegan Richards and Drew Marolt had base hits to open the inning.
Sammy Prijatel added two hits and Ty Walker drove in a run.
Some defensive lapses were costly against International Falls.


VFW tightens ‘D,’ wins twice

by Tom Coombe
Better defense and an improved performance at the plate led to a pair of victories for Ely’s VFW baseball team.
Post 2717 recorded splits in its last two twinbills, with Harry Simons’ bases-loaded single plating the winning run in a 7-6, second-game win over Cherry Tuesday night at Veterans Memorial Field.
In the opener, Ely fell 6-2 despite a strong pitching performance from Jacob Towley, who notched 10 strikeouts.
Five days earlier, Ely split two games with Esko, with Erron Anderson ripping three hits and Eddie Prijatel recording eight strikeouts in a 14-6 win. Esko took the nightcap 9-4.
Ely took a 3-6 record into Friday night’s matchup at Virginia and will host Proctor in a 5 p.m. doubleheader on Monday.
Early in the season, defense cost Ely in several defeats but progress was evident this week.
Post 2717 also revved up its bats in Proctor, site of the July 9 contests with Esko.


Six up, six down for Ely

Sixes were wild Tuesday night at International Falls.
Ely scored six times in the first two innings, Ely pitchers yielded only six hits and the result was the sixth straight win this summer - without a loss - for the Senior Babe Ruth (Legion-age) baseball team.
Senior Bryce Longwell gained his second pitching win in as many starts, Cam McRoberts notched two strikeouts en route to the save and Ely did just enough at the plate to hang on for a 6-5 win against its district rival.
Ely (6-0) returned to the field after a July 4 hiatus and for the first time since Dalton Schreffler notched 11 strikeouts in a 4-3, July 1 win over Taconite.
Add a 17-6 win at Hibbing to the mix, and Ely is clicking heading into this weekend’s 10-team Sir G’s Midsummer Classic, set for Veterans Memorial Field.


Pitching fuels a perfect start

Pitching is perhaps the most important aspect of any baseball team.
Early in what will be an abbreviated summer season, pitching has been the difference maker for Ely in Senior Babe Ruth Baseball.
Quality starts on the mound by Bryce Longwell, Danny Crockett and Dalton Schreffler have lifted the team representing Ely Legion Post 248 to a perfect 3-0 start.
Longwell worked six shutout innings on the mound in Tuesday’s home debut, a 9-1 win over Eveleth-Gilbert, while Crockett came within an out of a no-hitter as Ely picked up a 5-1, June 26 win at Grand Marais.
Ely also helped break in the new artificial turf field at Aurora June 25, with Schreffler effective for four innings in a 9-4 triumph.
The perfect start has been led by the work of a pitching staff that figures to be the strength of the Ely team.


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