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Baker, Carrier lead Tigers to successful season

Montana Baker capped off her senior season by being named the Upper Mississippi Conference co-MVP and earning Second Team All-State honors. Vance Carlson / Enterprise

It was another successful season for the Nevis fastpitch softball team.

The Tigers finished third in the Upper Mississippi Conference standings with a 4-4 record and earned the No. 5 seed in the West for the Section 5A playoffs. Nevis ended the season with an 11-7 overall record.

The Tigers opened the season with a 6-1 record, beginning with a 21-1 win in four innings over Cass Lake-Bena in the conference opener, a 9-8 win over Blackduck, and a conference doubleheader sweep over Laporte by scores of 8-6 and 7-5.

After a 9-5 loss to Northland Remer, Nevis defeated Kelliher-Northome 19-7 in five innings and Red Lake 15-5 in five innings in another conference game.

Pine River-Backus swept the Tigers by scores of 15-5 in five innings and 14-3 in a conference doubleheader before Nevis regrouped with a 10-3 win over Sebeka. Nevis then won the title at the Deer River tournament by defeating Ogilvie 15-0 in four innings, Hill City 19-8 in five innings and Braham 6-5.

Walker-Hackensack-Akeley swept the Tigers in the conference and regular-season finale by scores of 13-4 and 8-2. Pine River-Backus won the conference title with a 6-0 record with W-H-A in second place at 6-2. Red Lake (3-3), Laporte (1-5) and Cass Lake-Bena (0-6) rounded out the conference standings.

In the Section 5A playoffs, Nevis opened with an 8-5 win over No. 4 Northland Remer before being eliminated with a 3-0 loss to No. 1 Pine River-Backus and a 12-9 loss to No. 3 Walker-Hackensack-Akeley. All three of those team defeated Nevis during the regular season. Sebeka, the No. 2 seed in the West, defeated PR-B 7-6 in the section title game.

"We played very well in the section playoffs, beating Remer in our first game and losing to Pine River and Walker. We played Pine River and Walker very, very tough," said Nevis head coach Mike O'Rourke, who shared this year's Upper Mississippi Conference Coach of the Year honor. "I was very, very pleased with how the girls played in the playoffs. We finally played with confidence in our abilities. It was a good season."

Leading the Tigers this season were seniors Montana Baker and Tori Carrier. Baker shared the Upper Mississippi Conference MVP award and was named to the All-State Second Team after leading the Tigers in hits and RBI. Carrier also earned all-conference honors and was an All-State honorable mention pitcher.

Also earning all-conference honors was junior Ashley Pyburn (who had the team's highest batting average) while junior Brianna Nelson and sophomore Nikki Bayman received all-conference honorable mention honors.

Team awards went to Carrier (Horse of the Year), Baker (Golden Bat) and senior Bailey Nelson (Heart of Nevis after missing almost the entire season with an ankle injury). Brianna Nelson, sophomore Lydia Bjorklund and sophomore Megan Geraidts shared Most Improved Player honors while sophomore Kia Heide received the Golden Glove award. Sophomore Cora Umthun and freshman Paris Munn shared the team lead in stolen bases. Munn was named Rookie of the Year. Pyburn, Brianna Nelson and junior Gabby Davis were chosen captains for next season.

"We lose Tori, Montana and Bailey, but if our pitching can hold up, we could be improved with another year of experience," said O'Rourke.

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