Lakeville South’s softball team finished third in the South Suburban Conference. Playing in the tough 10-team league paid off.
The Cougars (19-5) earned their first state tournament appearance in school history by winning the Section 1 championship. Coach Rob Laden’s squad will meet Orono (18-3), which it beat 1-0 for the Lakeville North Invitational consolation championship, Thursday in the Class 3A quarterfinals at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
Conference runner-up Bloomington Jefferson (20-3) also advanced to the state tournament, defeating regular season champion Lakeville North in the Section 3 championship. Three of the Cougars’ five setbacks came at the hands of the Jaguars and Panthers.
The Cougars are led by senior pitcher Kylie Stober. The Gophers recruit is 11-4 on the season with a 2.45 ERA and has struck out 153 in 94 innings pitched. She is also a .400 hitter at the plate.
“We play really good teams all year,” Stober said. “It prepares us for the competition we see in post-season play.”
Sophomore catcher Madison Rutter and junior shortstop Isabella Laden enter state tournament play hitting above .400.
Raiders select coach
Mike Luckcraft feels at home on the ice or the links. The Burnsville native recently was hired as Northfield’s boys’ hockey coach.
Luckraft served as an assistant coach under Janne Kivihalme in the Burnsville program from 2006-11. He was a member of Burnsville’s state championship team in 1985.
“Mike is a fine man with a wealth of hockey background, both as a player and coach,” Northfield activities director Tom Graupmann said. “He will do an awesome job with the hockey part of coaching.”
Luckraft replaces Bryce Barry, who resigned after a 12-15-1 season in 2013-14. Barry went 71-84-3 during his seven years at the held of the Raiders.
“We are very confident Mike will be able to continue to lead this program in a very positive direction,” Graupmann said. “With that said, he will put character development first and help instill life-skills that will serve our student-athletes well, both on and off the ice.”
Luckraft is general manager at Willinger’s Golf Club in Northfield. He played in the Class 2A golf state tournament in 1984.
Headed to the Lake
Rosemount boys’ basketball coach Bryan Schnettler. who guided the Irish the past five seasons, will become the boys’ basketball coach as well as a physical education teacher at Wayzata. He replaces Nick Tibesar, who served as an interim coach this past season after Phil Ward resigned. Ward had guided the program for 17 years.
The Irish enjoyed their most successful season under Schnettler this past year, winding up with an overall record of 15-13. He accumulated a 56-83 record during his five-year tenure.