Elliott column: Becker remains a power in softball

Elliott column: Becker remains a power in softball

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Elliott column: Becker remains a power in softball

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Jason Baune is another Becker coach besides Dwight Lundeen who wasn’t thrilled with the Bulldogs’ athletic program moving to the Granite Ridge Conference.

Every coach at Becker voted whether to make the move from the larger-school Mississippi 8 Conference a couple years ago.

Lundeen, the hall of fame football coach and retired activities director, was the most vocal opponent. Since he helped create the Mississippi 8 and has a powerhouse football program, his opposition was expected. He was out-voted.

Baune is the softball coach. Becker has a great softball program, arguably the best in Central Minnesota.

“I was a no vote,” Baune admitted.

The Bulldogs are on the cusp of making the state Class 2A tournament, about to advance to Section 5-2A’s final four next week.

A couple of wins would put Becker into its third state tournament under Baune and the first since 2008 and ’09 when the Bulldogs last made it.

Baune said it wasn’t the best year to move to the Granite Ridge, whose schools’ enrollments are smaller than the Mississippi 8.

“A lot of the good teams are rebuilding,” Baune said, mentioning Albany, which had been in the last two state tournaments but wound up 6-12 this season.

“Fortunately, we were able to get in some good nonconference games,” he said.

Becker went 13-0 in its first season in the Granite Ridge. Most of the games weren’t close. Milaca gave the Bulldogs their toughest conference contests, losing to Becker 4-1 and 7-1. St. Cloud Cathedral, which also has been better, lost to the Bulldogs 3-0 and 9-3. The Crusaders finished 6-11.

Becker, which went into its Section 5-2A playoff game with Zimmerman today with a 16-3 record, played Wayzata, Watertown-Mayer and Hermantown in its own mini tournament May 11, beating Watertown-Mayer. All three are excellent teams. The Bulldogs’ other loss is 5-4 at Buffalo, a good Class 3A program.

Becker needed a win today in Maple Lake to move to the 5-2A tournament next week.

If they lost to Zimmerman, they needed to beat Annandale in the losers’ bracket in an elimination game. It’s double-elimination and all the games next week are in Watertown. Games are scheduled Tuesday afternoon, with an if-needed game set for Thursday.

Rockford and Delano are the other teams alive, with Rockford the remaining unbeaten. Among Becker, Zimmerman and Annandale, two advance.

Baune believes his team is ready.

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