Softball team nabs first win

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school softball team picked up one win in its first week of action.
New head coach Cory Lassi scored his first victory leading the program Apr. 23 at Babbitt, where the Timberwolves pounded Northeast Range 19-1 in five innings.
The day before, Chisholm defeated the Wolves 14-1, while Ely was on the short end of a 4-2 decision to Mesabi East on Tuesday, on the artificial turf at Aurora.
Junior Katrina Seliskar has been strong in the circle early on for Ely.
She struck out six batters in three-and-a-third innings while gaining the win in relief against the Nighthawks.
Seliskar was also on the short end of a pitching duel with Mesabi East’s Jasmine Heikkila, who limited the Wolves to four hits and fanned 11.
In defeat, Seliskar was equally brilliant and allowed only two earned runs on three hits while recording 10 strikeouts.


Ely’s baseball, softball teams finally debut

by Tom Coombe
Neither the Ely Timberwolves’ softball nor baseball teams had played yet this season as of Wednesday, but there’s little doubt both high school squads had already done battle with their two most difficult opponents of the spring.
First COVID-19 and then Mother Nature have proven to be more than formidable foes for the Wolves.
It was a COVID outbreak at the high school that sent students into distance learning from mid-March until Apr. 12 and sidelined Ely teams.
And since practice has begun, the Wolves have had to dodge rain drops, bundle up against biting winds and even waited for snow to melt.
The cold weather prompted some postponements early this week, but both Ely teams were slated to play their season openers as of deadline.
The softball team, under first-year head coach Cory Lassi, was slated to host Chisholm with a Friday visit to Babbitt following to take on Northeast Range.


Softball team has new coach

by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school softball team will take the field for the first time in nearly two years on Thursday.
And new faces will abound.
The Timberwolves, who open up at home with Chisholm (see schedule), will bear little resemblance to the team that closed out the 2019 campaign.
Cory Lassi has stepped in as the program’s new head coach, while only a handful of Wolves have varsity experience heading into the 2021 campaign.
Covid-19 robbed Ely of its 2020 season, while the 2019 unit boasted several key players who have since graduated.
“We’re going to be really young,” said Lassi, who took over after longtime coach Tom McDonald stepped aside. “We have 20 girls out, but 11 of those are seventh or eighth-graders so we’re going to rely heavily on our girls who are returning, whether they were starters or got time in JV.”
Two Wolves boast multiple years of starting experience.


HS spring sports to finally begin

After missing out on the entire 2020 campaign and the first two-to-three weeks of 2021, Ely’s high school spring sports teams are finally free to practice and play.
Monday, Apr. 12, marks the start of practice for several Ely Timberwolves teams.
A three-week reset at the school sent students into distance learning and put activities on hold, keeping the Wolves’ teams on the sidelines while their counterparts from around the region and state have been able to participate.
Most spring activities began March 29 while others started workouts the week before, putting Ely’s teams behind in early-season preparation.
COVID-19 also doused last year’s spring seasons for all teams across the state.
The delays in Ely have prompted numerous changes to various spring sports schedules, with games set for the week of Apr. 5 postponed first, followed by contests set for the week of Apr. 12 and later early-week contests the week of Apr. 19.


VCC surges into league play

The Vermilion Ironmen are in an unfamiliar but welcome position as Northern Divison community college baseball play begins this weekend.
With 10 wins in their first 16 contests, the Ironmen are the only team in the North with a winning record and they lead the five-team circuit with the best overall record in non-conference play.
Vermilion hopes to continue its string of recent success during the 16-game divison slate, which starts with doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday against defending champion Hibbing.
“Everyone starts 0-0 now,” said head coach Tom Coombe. “I think we’ve shown so far we can contend for a spot in the postseason and compete in our division, but we’ll have to show that on the field. These games so far don’t really mean anything when it comes to advancing.”


Two VCC players win weekly awards

Not one but two Vermilion Community College baseball players have been recognized with weekly honors by the Minnesota Community Athletic Conference.
Freshman Terren Sugita has been named Northern Division Player of the Week and classmate Ryan Kling is Northern Division Pitcher of the Week.
The recognition comes on the heels of a week in which the Ironmen won five times in six games to improve to 7-3 for the season.
Sugita, who hails from Anchorage, Alaska, launched three home runs and had 13 runs batted in during his hitting spree.
For the week, he went 11-for-22 at the plate to raise his average to a crisp .452, and the third baseman had home runs in both ends of a Saturday afternoon doubleheader sweep at Northland.
Sugita leads the state in both home runs (three) and runs batted in (14).
Kling, a product of New Richmond, Wisc., was dominant on the mound Sunday when VCC blanked Northland 8-0.


Ely HS speech team qualifies four for the Section 7A meet

All four members of Ely’s high school speech team have advanced to the section meet.
They qualified Monday, while competing off-campus and virtually in the subsection competition.
Laura Holmstrom, Harry Dammann, Maggie Dammann and Esther Anderson all qualified for the Apr. 16 Section 7A event.
“The kids did fine,” said head coach Donna Kari. “There were a couple of glitches with the technology but they did win. They all made it to sections, which was no sweat.”
Holmstrom advanced with a fourth-place subsection finish in Extemporaneous Speaking, while both Harry Dammann and Maggie Dammann were fifth in Creative and Extemporaneous Reading, respectively.
Anderson moves on after placing sixth in Extemporaneous Reading.
It has been an atypical year for speech students in Ely and across the state, with all meets held virtually this season with students generally competing from their own campuses.


Floridians handle the cold

Jacob Worley and Jakob Wiirre grew up playing baseball in Florida, and they adjusted Monday to outdoor baseball conditions that had little resemblance to the Sunshine State.
Both Vermilion pitchers adjusted to the elements, and pitched the Ironmen to a community college baseball sweep of rival Mesabi on Monday in Aurora.
Worley was masterful in the second game, striking out 10 batters and allowing only two hits in a 4-1 Vermilion win.
In the opening game, Wiirre overcame some early struggles, settled in and struck out nine while going the distance as the Ironmen prevailed 9-7.
Vermilion improved to 4-2 on the season.
While artificial turf made the twinbill possible, it began in temperatures under 40 degrees on a damp Monday morning.
The sun peaked out by the time Worley took the mound for the nightcap, but conditions were nothing like a warm, sunny day in Florida.


Johnston fifth at state

by Tom Coombe
Jasper Johnston closed out a stellar prep career with yet another stellar finish.
For the fourth year in a row, the Ely senior earned all-state acclaim in Nordic skiing and had a grand finale at the Mar. 12 state meet at Giants Ridge.
After taking seventh in the opening race, Johnson saved his best for last and was fourth in the four-kilometer freestyle and settled for fifth overall, in a field of 160, in the boys division.
Johnston, who is bound for Michigan Tech, was one of four Wolves to compete in the two-day state event, joining Ely boys teammate Gabriel Pointer as well as individual qualifiers Zoe Devine and Phoebe Helms from the Wolves’ girls team.
Johnston was the only Ely skier to gain all-state recognition, and was within 1.4 seconds of third place overall.


COVID, Floodwood combine to derail Ely girls’ playoff run

by Tom Coombe
Even with a mile-wide hole in their lineup, the Ely Timberwolves put up a fight.
The high school girls basketball season came to an end Wednesday night, when seventh-seeded Floodwood got past Ely 47-35 in the opening round of the Section 7A tournament.
But it was an odd matchup typical of an odd season, after COVID-19 protocols decimated the Wolves’ roster on the eve of the postseason and after the team had put together a late-season surge.
The Wolves, who finished 8-10, were without part of their starting lineup as well as several key reserves, forcing first-year head coach Max Gantt to go with a makeshift lineup against the Polar Bears.
Sophomore Lily Tedrick and junior Laura Holmstrom stepped into the lineup and eighth-grader Clare Thomas got her first extended varsity action of the season.
The Wolves still competed well, but were done in by a pair of Polar Bear runs and scoring droughts of their own.


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