Softball Wolves bounce back
Ely wins four-of-six as pitcher Mackenzie returns to the lineup
by Tom Coombe
Ely’s high school softball team got its pitcher back - and now the Timberwolves are making a late-season charge.
Wednesday’s 12-0 home thrashing of Littlefork-Big Falls was the Wolves’ fourth win in six contests, and a win in Friday’s regular season finale would bring them back the .500 mark for the year.
Ely, now 6-7, will open play Tuesday in the Section 7A tournament.
A midseason slump, which coincided with pitcher Zoe Mackenzie’s absence with a knee injury, may have cost the Wolves chance to host a playoff game this week.
Yet the Wolves now loom as a difficult obstacle for any first-round opponent, particularly with the freshman pitcher back in the circle.
With the help of strong defense, Mackenzie blanked Littlefork-Big Falls while tossing a one-hitter with four strikeouts. She only walked two batters and the Ely defense did not make an error.
The Wolves would score all the runs Mackenzie would need in the bottom of the third inning, sending 11 batters to the plate.
Both Kate Coughlin and Maija Mattson had run-scoring hits during the rally and Ely was aided by numerous walks and errors.
The following inning, Hannah Penke’s bases-clearing triple scored three and the rout was on.
Both Mattson and Coughlin finished with two hits for the Wolves, and Mattson scored twice.
Lily Dirks also scored two runs.
On Monday, Ely rallied from a 9-3 deficit to stun Mt. Iron-Buhl 12-9 and salvage a split of the home doubleheader.
Amelia Penke’s run-scoring hit helped ignite a four-run fifth that was extended by walks and errors, and the hosts would add five more runs in the bottom of the sixth.
Hannah Penke singled and scored on a wild pitch to close the gap to one, and senior Madeline Kallberg delivered a two-run single to put the Wolves in front to stay.
Mackenzie set down the Rangers in order in the top of the seventh, and the Wolves came away with what is likely their biggest win of the abbreviated spring.
Hannah Penke finished three-for-five for the winners, and Amelia Penke, Kallberg and Makenzi Huntington all scored two runs.
Mackenzie tossed a six-hitter with two strikeouts and allowed only four earned runs.
In the opener, MIB jumped out to a 6-1 lead through two innings and prevailed 11-4.
Ely managed seven hits, including two by eighth-grader catcher Payton Huntington and two more by Hannah Penke.
• In road action May 12, a potent North Woods team downed the Wolves 12-2 in five innings and completed a regular season sweep.
Nine Ely errors were the difference as the Grizzlies tacked on numerous unearned runs.
Payton Huntington had two hits and drove in a run for the Wolves.
• Ely dominated Northeast Range 19-2 and 18-3, both in five innings, in a May 11 home twinbill.
The Wolves scored 10 runs in the bottom of the third to put the opening game away.
Hannah Penke clubbed two home runs and finished with five runs batted in for the contest.
Kallberg was three-for-four and Clare Thomas chipped in two hits with three RBI.
Rachel Coughlin scored three runs while Amelia Penke, Brielle Lindland and Ella Perish all scored twice.
Kate Coughlin pitched the first three innings and fanned seven batters to get the win.
The nightcap featured more of the same as 10 runs in the bottom of the first helped Ely put the game away early.
The Wolves had only six hits but got the benefit of 10 walks and numerous errors.
Dirks was two-for-two with two runs scored, and Mackenzie and Amelia Penke combined on a three-hitter.