It took more than year but Kelsey Anderson has finally made her debut on the field as the Prior Lake softball coach.
Anderson was all set to take over the Lakers last spring, but the season was canceled due to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
So Anderson’s debut as coach was April 15 and it was a good one — a 17-1 South Suburban Conference victory at Burnsville. The Lakers have won three of their first four games this spring.
Prior Lake lost 5-2 at home to Eastview in their second game April 16, but followed with a 11-2 win versus Lakeville North April 22 and a 4-0 victory on the road against Eastview April 26.
Under former coach Matt Haefner, Prior Lake had a record of 123-46 in his seven seasons as coach, stepping down after the 2019 season. Haefner led the Lakers to a runner-up finish at state in 2013. He had a 23-13 overall playoff mark and won one SSC title in 2018.
So Anderson, a 2011 Burnsville High School graduate, didn’t take over a program that’s been struggling over the years. The 2019 team finished 13-10 overall (2-2 in the playoffs) and there were some talented juniors and seniors on that squad — some of whom are now playing Division I and II softball.
Seniors Grace Mahowald, Kate Beer, Abby Kuboushek and Karlie Miller and junior Maddy Lyons were part of that 2019 team and they’re back to help lead the Lakers this spring. Mahowald, Beer and Miller are the Lakers’ captains this season.
Miller tossed a one-hit shutout in the Lakers’ win over Eastview, striking out 13. Sophomore Macey Dahl led the offense, finishing 2 for 2 with a double and two RBIs. Lyons also knocked in a run.
In the win over Lakeville North, Miller threw another complete game. She fanned 15 batters, giving up three hits and two runs. She also went 3 for 4 with two doubles and three RBIs at the plate.
Senior Maddison Blade also went 3 for 4 with a homerun, double and two RBIs for the Lakers. Sophomore Brooke Holmes also homered, finishing 2 for 4.
Junior Tori Wietgrefe doubled going 2 for 4 with an RBI, while Beer was 2 for 3 with a double and two RBIs. Lyons also doubled and drove in a run.
Prior Lake led 3-2 after two innings, but broke the game open with five runs in the fifth inning and three more runs in the sixth.
The Lakers will end the regular season May 28 at Forest Lake. The Section 2AAAA playoffs will start the week of June 1. Under Haefner, Prior Lake was also section runner-up four times (2014, 2017 and 2018).
Eden Prairie won the Section 2AAA title in 2019, the last season softball was three classes. It was supposed to go to four classes last spring.
Chanhassen, Shakopee and Minnetonka are also strong section contenders, while Chaska, Burnsville and Bloomington Jefferson round out the field.
This year’s Class 4A state tournament is set for June 15-16 at its annual site, Caswell Park in Mankato.