AUSTIN EDITION -- Leif cracks starting lineup for Gustavus
While the Lyle/Austin Pacelli softball team has started the season unbeaten in its quest for a repeat trip to the state championship game, former infielder Kari Leif is making her mark at the college level.
After starting the season on the bench, Leif moved into the starting lineup this past weekend for Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter. With Leif bolstering the defense at second base, the Gustavus team swept a doubleheader from Concordia College 2-1 and 4-3.
Leif was one of the key figures in the run by Lyle/Pacelli to the state title round last year. She was also a starter as a sophomore on the Pacelli team that went to state in 1999.
Replacing a senior in the lineup isn't easy and thus Leif has spent the early part of this college season in a backup role. Even with the move into the starting lineup, Leif is still sharing time on the field.
Defense is the ticket
More of a slap-hitter in high school, Leif is still learning the nuances of hitting in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. But just like in her days of wearing the Shamrock green, Leif is a stopper up the middle on defense.
"I only had a few balls hit to me, but things went okay in my first start," Leif said. "Our defense has been hurting us in crucial situations, and my coach says that she feels more confident with me out there. The other second baseman plays in two or three of the middle innings because she is a good hitter, then I go back in to finish the game.
"It's different, but it has been working out. Defense is what I'm most confident with, so I like this arrangement so far. Now I just have to get my slapping down if I want to be in there the whole game."
Spring ball goes quickly and the regular season is drawing to a close for Leif and her teammates. Gustavus travels to Winona today for a doubleheader with St. Mary's College.
Local players honored
Capping off a senior season in which he made it to the state tournament for the first time, Austin swimming captain Joe Bauer has received even more honors to close out his high school career. Bauer has earned a spot on the Academic All-American team.
It's been a busy couple of weeks for honors by the AHS swimming and diving team. Lynn Gulbrandson, who coached Joe Bauer for six years, was presented with coach of the year honors last week. This was the most successful swim season in many years for the Packers as the boys and girls qualified a record number of state participants.
Jessica Peck of the Riverland softball team was named the player-of-the-week in the Minnesota Community College, South Division. Peck splits her time between catching and playing first base. The stellar play of Peck has paced her team to first place in the division.
Bowling winds down
League bowling is almost over for the season at Echo Lanes, but a few aren't quite finished yet. For those leagues still kocking down pins, there are a couple of bowlers who deserve some recognition.
In the Servicemen's League, Mike Matyas recently shot a 739 series on games of 256, 237, 246. On Thursday night in the Classic Scratch League, Garrett Rockwell shot his first 300 game. This was the ninth perfect game of the season posted in the men's leagues.
Scott Kolb is a Post-Bulletin sports writer. His column appears each Tuesday. He can be reached at email@example.com