Morgan Demars had a knack for getting on base.
That’s a good trait to have if you are the leadoff hitter on your softball team. Demars reached base in 60 percent of her at bats and led the Pine River-Backus Tigers with 33 runs scored.
Even when she didn’t make it on base, which was rare, she made sure her teammates got a good look at the opponents’ pitcher.
“She was an excellent lead off,” said PR-B head coach Jason Roepke. “She’s really patient. She doesn’t swing at a lot of first pitches. She likes to work pitchers deep into the count and she is great at fouling balls off, she did all the time. It is crazy how she can go get a ball and put a bat on it to stay alive.”
Demars stayed alive enough to bat .557 with 34 hits in 61 at bats. She hit 10 doubles, five triples and a home run. She also drove in 17 runs.
“As a team we did really good,” said Demars. “Our batting average was really good. We didn’t have a lot of errors in the field, which was good, too.”
Demars’ batting average jumped almost 200 points from her freshman season. She said it was simply confidence and a year of experience seeing faster pitchers.
She was 2-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs in a 10-5 loss to Wadena-Deer Creek May 17. She finished 3-5 with a triple, two RBIs and four runs in a 16-15 non-conference win over the Frazee Hornets May 19. In a 17-10 win over Verndale May 13, Demars was 3-6.
“She just kept hitting,” said Roepke. “Morgan is left-handed and we slapped (hit) her a lot last year, but this year right from the start she was ripping the cover off the ball. She hit it hard.
“Plus, she only struck out twice this year. I don’t know if it’s the hockey that makes her such a good contact hitter. She’s a strong girl and she’s just gotten stronger. She is one of those kids that is in the weight room. She just loves to work.”
Her work wasn’t done once she reached base. She also knew what to do once she got on. She finished the year with 12 stolen bases.
“I just run fast, I guess,” said Demars, who plays hockey and volleyball. “You also have to know the pitcher’s arm. As a leadoff hitter my job was to get on base and hopefully someone else would get me home. This year that was fun because every game we would get really good hits. We had a lot of doubles and triples in almost every game.”
Defensively, Demars played center field and filled in at first base when Autumn Ackerman pitched.
“She was a great asset to have because she could come in from the outfield and play first base and not miss a beat,” said Roepke. “She could run down a lot of balls in the outfield. She was just real solid defensively.
“She’s just a great kid. She’s good in the classroom and she is an outstanding worker. She works her tail off and never quits.”
Other notable performances:
Golf: Kaila Schaaf, Aitkin, shot a 53 for medalist honors against Hinckley-Finlayson.
Emily Israelson, Staples-Motley, shot 76 for medalist honors at the Menahga Invite.
Softball: Paige Beseman, Little Falls, finished with two doubles and three RBIs against St. Cloud Tech. She added two hits against Mora to become the school’s single-season and career hits leader.
Katie Wangberg, Pine River-Backus, went 4-5 with a double and triple against Frazee.
Megan Boser, Pierz, finished 2-4 with a home run, two runs and RBI against Pine City.
Track and field: Amber Preimesberger, Pierz, won the 100-meter hurdles and high jump in the Central Minnesota Conference meet.
Jaelin Beachy, Staples-Motley, won the 100 and 300 hurdles at the Mid-State Conference meet.
Rachel Craig, Wadena-Deer Creek, won the discus and high jump at the Mid-State Conference meet.