In two weeks Sami Seaton has gone from struggling to sensational.
Seaton turned her game around at the Menahga tournament April 24 and in the process helped the Verndale Pirates softball team.
She finished 7-of-10 with two home runs and eight RBI. She also picked up a pitching win at the tournament.
She said that's when things started turning around.
"We were watching the Cherry pitcher and we heard she was an all-state pitcher," said Seaton. "Then I got a single off her and we were all pretty pumped up about that.
"Now I'm making better contact and doing better."
Seaton was 2-for-4 with one RBI in a 7-3 victory over Ashby April 26. Two days later, she was 2-for-4 against Sebeka. In both games, she picked up the win.
The junior has 14 hits, two doubles, eight runs, 14 RBI, three steals and a .341 batting average.
The two home runs have been her season highlight.
"That was awesome," Seaton said about her home runs. "I was pitching against New York Mills and their pitcher hit two home runs off me and I couldn't believe it. I was pitching them low to her and she took care of them.
"Then I hit a home run off her and I was pretty excited about it.
"The one against Cass Lake-Bena I just hit it in the right spot and ended up scoring a close play."
Seaton, who bats third, leads the team in RBI. But where she has helped Verndale the most has been her pitching.
"I learned to place my pitches better," she said. "I also learned to read the batter, if they have an open stance or a closed stance. I've learned to recognize that and get the pitch to the right place."
Her coach attributes her success to pitch placement and change of speeds.
"She mixes it up and tries to hit the corners," said Verndale coach Tim Seaton. "She's throwing it in and out and up and down. She's been working on her changeup to have something else to go with her fastball. She's not overpowering, but she's not slow, either."
The starting pitcher also has improved her defense on the mound.
Another thing Tim Seaton likes about his pitcher is her leadership. With only one senior on the team, Sami has elevated her presence on the field.
The two-year varsity player helped Verndale to the section finals last year as its top pitcher. Because of that success, Sami had lofty expectations for the start of the season.
"I really expected to open the season with a win and we ended up losing that one to Sebeka," Sami said. "You have to readjust your priorities. We're starting fresh again with a whole new bunch of fielders. It's hard at first to realize you don't have the same team as last year.
"Since the Menahga tournament we're starting to play better. Everything is starting to come into place."
Other notable performances:
Golf -- Kristen Sczublewski, Pierz, shot 46 for medalist honors in a Central Minnesota Conference meet at Maple Lake.
Softball -- Mandie Roggenkamp, Pequot Lakes, was 3-for-4 with a home run against Eagle Valley. She was 2-3 with two runs and one RBI against Detroit Lakes.
Mari Kivisto, Crosby-Ironton, was 2-2 with a double and three runs against Wadena-Deer Creek.
Amanda Perkins, Pine River-Backus, was 4-4 with two triples and six RBI against Perham.
Sarah Kahl, Pierz, was 2-4 with four RBI against Holdingford.
Michelle Honek, Staples-Motley, was 2-0 with 18 strikeouts, no walks, two hits and no earned runs at the Cardinals' Invite.
Track and field -- Laura Pace, Pillager, won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles and triple jump at the Pillager Invite.
JEREMY MILLSOP can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5856.
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