State Softball: Riewer returns and brings new team with him

Class 1A state softball Who: Pine River-Backus (20-7) vs. Edgerton/Southwestern Minnesota Christian (17-7) What: Class 1A state quarterfinals When: 1 p.m. Thursday Where: Caswell Park, North Mankato This is not new territory for John Riewer. The ...

John Riewer
John Riewer

Class 1A state softball

Who: Pine River-Backus (20-7) vs. Edgerton/Southwestern Minnesota Christian (17-7)

What: Class 1A state quarterfinals

When: 1 p.m. Thursday

Where: Caswell Park, North Mankato


This is not new territory for John Riewer.

The Pine River-Backus head coach helped the Tigers to their first Class 1A state appearance last week as they battled back through the losers' bracket to knock off top-seeded Sebeka twice in the Section 5-1A final.

PR-B will open the state tournament against the Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian Flying Dutchmen 1 p.m. Thursday at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

"It's just incredible to me," Riewer said. "We played our best softball at the right time. Are we the best team? I'm not going to say we were the best team in the section, but we were playing the best softball of any team in the section.

"It's so enjoyable because it's the first state tournament appearance for our girls softball program. For our school and the community, it's pretty neat. We have great support and I've never seen kids so happy. They're looking forward to the experience and whatever happens, happens. But I told them that they deserve to be there. We beat a good team to get there."

While this will be the first state tournament for PR-B, it will be Riewer's third state softball trip. He led Dassel-Cokato to its first state appearance in 1996 and returned in 1999.

The Tigers enter state with a 20-7 record and were the No. 2 seed in the North Subsection. Edgerton held on in the Section 3-1A final to beat BOLD 11-1 in the second game for the championship. The Flying Dutchmen, who enter state at 17-7 were the South Subsection's No. 1 seed, but according to the Quality Results Formula, were the third-best team in the section behind Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg and BOLD.

According to the QRF, Edgerton is ranked 15 and PRB 21.


This is the third straight state tournament for the Flying Dutchmen, who have outscored their opponents 214-80 and own a team batting average of .360. Hope Veldkamp leads the team with 34 hits and a .410 batting average. She has 18 RBIs and two home runs. Chynna Bernig has five home runs and 20 RBIs with a .380 average. Jenny Nelson has four homers with 34 RBIs and a .420 average.

Jordyn Smidt and Jaidyn Henstra each have 32 hits and averages of .410 or better. Smidt leads the team with 35 RBIs.

"In the games that mattered most, we made the plays," Riewer said. "If we go down there and make the plays we're supposed to, we can be competitive. I think Miah (Hansen), whether we're ahead or behind, she stays the same. She's pretty even-keel and probably handles it better than I do and I think that's why she is successful. She throws strikes. So if you're a good hitting team you're going to hit the ball, but as long as she doesn't give up any free passes I really think we can be competitive down there."

Hansen owns a 2.52 ERA and a 19-7 record. She's struck out 180 batters in 159 innings. She also owns a .292 batting average with 21 RBIs.

"All I know about (Flying Dutchmen) is they came through a section that they were not expected to win," Riewer said. "They got through it so they're obviously a pretty good team. But I think we played a pretty good non-conference schedule. We got beat up by Pequot Lakes and by playing Park Rapids. If Miah can throw strikes and we play defense behind her, we have a chance.

"If there is one thing that we've really improved on, it would be bunting and baserunning and executing game situations. I have to give the kids a lot of credit on that."

Alexus Reddick leads the Tigers with 31 hits. She has 25 RBis and a .326 average. Andrea Semmler is hitting .333 with 15 RBis. Allison Anderson is hitting .341 with 25 RBIs and Lindsey Tulenchik is hitting .347 with 17 RBIs.

Liz Buckridge mans the mound for Edgerton. She's 17-7 with a 2.28 ERA. In 144 innings pitched, she has struck out 127 batters.


"We're just believing that we can win," Riewer said. "In five playoff games, we had to come from behind to win. Each time you do that, you just get a belief that you can come back and win. We've made some incredible plays offensively and defensively.

"I know this is the state tournament, but I think some people get so caught up in that fact that they put so much pressure on themselves. Our kids have never experienced this so I don't know who is going to show up. I've just been trying to tell them that this is just another game."

JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or . Follow on Twitter at .

Covering the Brainerd lakes area sports scene for the past 23 years.
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