Area Female Athlete: S-M’s Zetah has flair for dramatic
Kelsey Zetah showed what the word clutch means.
It happened May 29 during the Section 6-2A softball final in Waite Park. The Staples-Motley senior stepped up to the plate ready to face the pitcher of the top-seeded St. Cloud Cathedral Crusaders.
Zetah, a five-year varsity veteran, describes it best.
“The bases were loaded with two outs,” she said. “I was kind of struggling. I was hitting the ball in play every time, but I was struggling to get on base. At the moment I was just thinking I have to hit the ball. I got the right pitch and I blooped a hit right in between the center fielder and the right fielder and I got all three runs in. I was pretty excited. We got the momentum when we needed.”
Zetah’s three-run double catapulted the Cardinals to a 7-2 victory and a trip to the Class 2A state softball tournament. She finished 2-for-5 in the game.
“The table was set for her by the bottom of our order,” said Cardinals head coach Bruce Onischuk. “We had runners on base and she came up in the fifth inning and hit a double. That got us right back in the game. It was almost like an epidemic. Once one person starts to hit, everyone on the team starts to hit. She really ignited us.”
The flair for the dramatic isn’t Zetah’s style, however. The shortstop is more concerned about stability and consistency. Those words better describe Zetah’s season.
She hit .400 during the section playoffs with four doubles, seven RBIs and 10 hits total. Onischuk didn’t know his leadoff hitter’s on-base percentage, but said she has a knack for getting on the bases.
“She really works the count,” Onischuk said. “She frustrates the coaches to no end at times, but she’s really good at working the count. She’s a good two-strike hitter. When we have runners on and need a hit, you want her to hit the ball, but she’s excellent at being patient and waiting for her pitch. She takes what the pitcher gives her. She’s just a real good hitter.”
Zetah hit .463 for the season and continued her hitting excellence during the state tournament. She finished 2-3 with a run during the Cardinals 10-2 loss to St. Anthony Village in the Class 2A state consolation championship. She was 1-3 with a run and an RBI in S-M’s 3-2 win over Hermantown in the consolation semifinals and during a 6-3 State quarterfinal loss to Hawley, Zetah went 1-3 with two RBIs and a walk.
“As a team we all wanted to get to state,” Zetah said. “Since last year when we were in good position to do it, but fell a little short that’s been our goal. A lot of those girls were back this year so we knew what needed to get done for us to get to state. That was the main goal for our team. For me individually, my goal was to do the best that I could so we could make it to state. It takes a team to get there.”
It also takes sacrifice. Zetah, who had played second base for most of her varsity career, switched to shortstop this season. She said she feels comfortable anywhere in the infield. Onischuk said the first few games were a learning curve, but Zetah has been solid ever since.
“We had high expectations of her since she’s been around since eighth grade,” Onischuk said. “We were looking for her to play a key role as far as how she played shortstop. That’s the quarterback of the infield and she came through really in a big way. She started out a little shaky, but has just come on at the right time of the year.”
Other notable performances:
Golf: Jenna Pettit, Pillager, shot a 96 to win the Section 6-1A individual title.
Softball: Katie White, Pequot Lakes, finished 2-3 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI and pitched the win over Cloquet.
Kayla Miller, Pequot Lakes, went 2-3 with a double, two RBIs and a run against Cloquet.
Megan Vetsch, Staples-Motley, pitched the win against Rocori by striking out two, walking none.
Track and field: Vanessa Lane, Pequot Lakes, won the 100- and 200-meter dashes, helped the 4x100 relay to first and finished second in the long jump in the Section 6-1A meet.
Jaelin Beachy, Staples-Motley, swept the hurdles events in the Section 6-1A meet.