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Published June 05 2012

Hawley having fun as it preps for state softball tourney

HAWLEY, Minn. – Throwing water balloons might not sound like the traditional pre-state tournament practice.

But it’s what the Hawley fastpitch softball team did Tuesday, two days before playing in the Minnesota Class 2A state tournament.

The tournament starts Thursday in Mankato.

“We like to have fun with the girls every now and again,” said Nuggets coach Anita Heier. “You want them to have fun and not worry about certain things.”

Hawley (16-3) has won 11 consecutive games, but there are a few items to worry about. Heier outlined the biggest being Hawley playing in a larger class.

After playing in two of the last three Class 1A state tournaments, the Nuggets will be playing in their first Class 2A tournament this week.

“I think having days like this help,” said senior third baseman Jessica Laddusaw. “It reminds us why we play the game and why the game is fun.”

Lately, it is easy to understand why Hawley’s been having fun. Hawley rolled through the section playoffs, outscoring opponents 42-14.

An offensive outburst has been a welcome relief for a team which said hitting has been a problem over the last few seasons. It’s another reason why this last practice was so carefree.

Heier said she’s traditionally made the last practice of the year fun for her players. She says this late in the year, there’s nothing more she can stress to her players they don’t already know.

That’s why Tuesday featured an hour-long session going over defense and hitting. The rest of the practice featured the team tossing water balloons at each other.

Heier joked it was a drill to focus on having, “soft hands.”

“We were trying to get the water balloons that were going over our heads,” said senior shortstop Veronica Neumann. “Maybe we were trying too hard. That’s why they kept breaking.”

Winning at state won’t come easy. Hawley opens up with St. Anthony Village (22-3), a team that scored 30 runs in one playoff game.

“We’ve been looking forward to this part of the season for a very long time,” Neumann said. “We are confident, we are ready to play good softball and we are at our peak right now.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.

Clark’s Force blog can be found

at slightlychilled.areavoices.com