Central softball recognized with MRC awards

Head coach Jon Lambrecht was named the 2017 MRC softball coach of the year. (Adam Gruenewald/The Times)

Winners of the Minnesota River Conference, Central softball was rewarded with several conference awards.
Central head coach Jon Lambrecht was named the 2017 MRC Softball Coach of the Year, while sophomores in shortstop Abby Mackenthun, pitcher/utility Sadie Erickson, catcher Lily Schneider and first baseman Leah Crown were all named to the MRC team with sophomore pitcher Auna Hallquist earning an honorable mention.
Central softball went 19-6 on the season and went 9-3 in the MRC, as they edged out Jordan (8-4). The Raiders, who went  3-2 in the 5AA playoffs losing to Annandale on May 31, return much of their team next season, as their lone senior was Marlie Franck.
For their part, Mayer Lutheran junior catcher Mya Chmielewski and junior pitcher Tina Saulsbury were both named to the MRC squad and senior third baseman Sophie Flucas earned an honorable mention.
The Crusaders went 17-9 on the season, including 7-5 in the MRC. Going 4-2 in the playoffs, they advanced to the 4A final, where they were eliminated by Kimball Area on May 31.
The coaches named Elizabeth Johnson of Belle Plaine as the 2017 MRC Most Valuable Player and Elly Novak of Tri-City United as the 2017 MRC Most Valuable Pitcher.

Abby Mackenthun, Central sophomore, shortstop
Abby Mackenthun is a three sport athlete and a third year starter for the NYA Raider softball program.  She batted this season at the leadoff, 3 spot, and cleanup spot in the batting order.  Her RBI total would be a bit higher had she not spent a large part of her season as Central’s leadoff hitter.   She has a nice combination of athletic ability, strength, and speed.  She has a natural aggressiveness to her swing as well as her approach to the shortstop position.

Sadie Erickson, Central sophomore pitcher/utility
Sadie Erickson spent nine of 12 games in MRC play in the #3 spot in the batting order, and the other three games in the #4 spot.  Sadie improved her batting average by nearly 30 points over last season, as her strength and all-around game improved.  She took strides forward as an efficient pitcher and helped win some very big games.  She pitched a 1-hitter versus Jordan in a tightly fought 1-0 game, and took a 2-hitter into the 7th inning on three of her total of 6 pitching appearances in MRC play.   Offensively, she is a force at the plate with tremendous power and discipline.  On multiple occasions this year she hit homerun balls out of entire ballparks.  Also on multiple occasions she was the deciding factor in tightly fought games.  In a year as close as 2017 in the MRC, Sadie’s bat made  the difference as to how the MRC shook out.  She not only hits for power but in conference play batted .526 – striking out just 4 times of 45 MRC plate appearances. Sadie was a coach’s dream.  She was a strong and physical competitor, motivated,  a great teammate.  She is the daughter of a middle school science teacher and junior high softball coach in our district.  She is a three sport athlete, in the school band, member of student council, and the National Honor Society and currently has a 3.961 GPA.

Lily Schneider, Central sophomore catcher
Lily Schneider is a sophomore third year starter at the catching position for Central and is a fierce competitor with a strong arm.  She batted in the top four of the Raider line up in all 20 games during the 2017 season.  She is great at going deep into the count and excels at fouling off pitches and extending her at bats.  Defensively, she is very aggressive with base runners and has a quick release.  She threw out three of only 12 total stolen base attempts in MRC play as most runners don’t attempt to steal on her after seeing her arm strength.

Leah Crown, Central sophomore first base
Leah Crown is an elite defensive/fielding ball player.  Her defense at first base is near perfect.  She possesses great instincts, great fundamentals, instinctual footwork, and soft hands.  On a 2017 NYA team that depended on dependable defense, Leah provided peace of mind.  She was able and capable of scooping up rushed throws from fellow infielders and has great range that is far above the average. She made very difficult/non–routine plays appear easy.  She was a dedicated and motivated ball player, taking great pride in her level of play, and was a vital cog on the NYA Central Raider ball team.  She found herself  home at the 5 or 6 spot in the order and showed great improvement in her confidence and performance at the plate – batting .324 in MRC conference play.

Mya Chmielewski, Mayer Lutheran junior catcher
Mya Chmielewski continues to be a solid defender behind the plate for the Crusaders.  She also led the team with 13 RBI and was second on the team with 12 runs, a .356 batting average, a 1.022 OPS, and 6 extra base hits.  Mya is the daughter of Gordy and DeAnn Chmielewski and attended Zion Lutheran School in Mayer.

Tina Saulsbury, Mayer Lutheran junior pitcher
Martina had a 2.80 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP in MRC games this season, finishing 7-5 as the Crusaders’ starting pitcher.  In addition to her success on the mound, she led the Crusaders with 13 runs, while also contributing a .359 batting average, nine RBIs and five stolen bases. Martina is the daughter of Jake and Maria Saulsbury and attended Clearwater in Waconia.

2017 MRC All-Conference Softball Team
Abby Mackenthun, Central; Sadie Erickson, Central; Lily Schnieder, Central; Leah Crown, Central; Lydia Plechaty, Jordan; Selena Dalton, Jordan; Emma Adamek, Jordan; Brooke Sievers, Jordan; Elizabeth Johnson, Belle Plaine; Taylor Mullen, Belle Plaine; Hailey Witt, Belle Plaine; Emma Luskey, Belle Plaine; Mya Chmielewski, Mayer Lutheran; Martina Saulsbury, Mayer Lutheran; Kelsey Berndt, LeSueur-Henderson; Allison Schwarz, LeSueur-Henderson; Elly Novak, Tri-City United; Mattie Hellerud, Tri-City United; Morgan Stearns, Sibley East; Alli Harter, Sibley East

Honorable Mention MRC All-Conference
Auna Hallquist, Central; Ansley Miller, Jordan; Lauren Johnson, Belle Plaine; Sophie Flucas, Mayer Lutheran; Mikayla Reinhardt, LeSueur-Henderson; Kaitlyn Buss, Tri-City United; Sydney Schott, Sibley East