By Jon Arends
The Orono High School softball program held its year-end banquet June 14, recapping a very successful season that included a Wright County Conference (WCC) title, a Section 6 AAA Section Championship and a third place finish at the Class AAA State Tournament.
The Spartans finished with a 25-2 overall record – the best win-loss record of any AAA team in the state. The team was a perfect 10-0 at home, ran off an 18-game winning streak and finished ranked No. 8 in the QRF state AAA rankings.
Orono posted a .355 team batting average leading the WCC in hits (270), runs (187) and RBI’s (158). The Spartans had three players finish the season batting over .400 – Becky Smith (.457), Shelby Earley (.429) and Madison Arends (.406).
The Spartan pitching staff comprised of Samantha Hartmann, Hannah Bergh and Amanda Peterson posted a 1.13 ERA allowing only 29 earned runs and holding opponents to a .214 batting average while giving up 103 hits and striking out 225 opposing hitters in 179 total innings pitched. Hartmann posted a 16-1 overall record with a 0.80 ERA and 144 K’s. Bergh finished a perfect 6-0 with a 0.81 ERA.
Orono’s fielding was solid throughout the season including some spectacular plays at the state tournament. The team posted a .960 fielding percentage and all varsity players were honored as recipients of the Team Defensive Award. Individually, Madison Arends was recognized by the coaching staff for playing all 27 games without an error.
The final team award recognized the players’ work off the playing field as the Spartans earned the Minnesota Coaches Team Academic Silver Award for maintaining a team GPA equal to or greater than 3.50. Jessica Flakne was named as a 2012 Minnesota Coaches Individual Academic Award winner (minimum 3.75 GPA).
Head Coach Mike Carter handed out participation and varsity letters and reflected on the teams’ accomplishments.
"We had unselfish play from everyone for the entire season," Carter said. "Our hits could come from anywhere in the lineup and our kids displayed a great knack for hitting in the clutch as we scored many of our runs with two outs."
Carter acknowledged the team’s three trophies at the head table – WCC and Section 6 AAA championships along with the third place at state – and shared his favorite moment of the 2012 campaign.
"Coming back at state and defeating a very good Mankato East team for third place showed a lot about this teams’ make up," said Carter. "We wished we were playing for the championship but it was a character building moment after a tough loss."
Coach Carter and his staff then recognized some individual honors for the junior varsity and varsity teams.
The JV award recipients included: