The Holy Angels softball team ended the 2016 season with a sour taste in its mouth after falling one game short of playing for the section title.
Now, one year later, the Stars have put themselves in a position to be one of the top teams in the section, and their recent accomplishments have put many teams on notice.
Holy Angels has played to a 10-2 record this season, and the Stars secured a Tri-Metro Conference title with a 5-2 win over St. Anthony May 9. Holy Angels’ two losses came to Edina and Chisago Lakes, the fourth-ranked team in Class 3A.
“One of our first goals, one of our first steps was to win the Tri-Metro Conference,” Cardinal said. “Someone did some research and found out Holy Angels has not won the conference title since 1996.
“If you do anything for the first time since 1996, that’s a great thing. We’re happy with that, although that’s not the ultimate goal for the year, but a stepping stone for bigger and better things.”
Despite not having a senior on the roster, Cardinal entered the season with faith in his junior class, and he credits those juniors for helping the Stars play as well as they have this year.
“I really have been leaning on our junior leadership group, we have eight juniors that have been playing since they were freshmen,” Cardinal said. “We have been concentrating on focus and finish, concentrating on what we’re doing and finish the at-bat, the inning, the game or the week strong.”
Holy Angels was set to play two games this week when this edition of the Sun Current went to press, but, with the weather forecast not looking good for many local teams, Cardinal is unsure of how much playing time his team will be able to get prior to the start of the section tournament next week.
“We do want to play well at sections, so we’re not going to risk much this week,” Cardinal said. “We scheduled some challenging games at the end of the season, so we would like to play as much as we can and keep playing well and not have to worry about sitting and getting rusty with the rain falling down.”
No matter what happens with the weather, Cardinal feels his team has been playing well enough to support a run at a state berth. He also noted he feels his team knows what it takes to succeed at sections.
“We talk about our five pillars of being a good team, whether it is a regular season game or sections,” Cardinal said. “We need to keep up our good culture, pitching and catching is obviously always key, especially with close games in sections, defense and base running, those things have to stay solid and we have to limit our mistakes and not let one or two mistakes derail us from staying focused for the rest of the game.
“Finally, hitting. When you advance further in sections you go up against tougher pitchers that can throw to their spots better and get you off-balance, so it will take discipline to put some runs on the board against the pitchers in our section.”
Holy Angels is set to finish its regular season against St. Louis Park at 4 p.m. Thursday, May 19, at Lincoln Field. The Section 3AAA tournament will kick off Monday, May 22.
Contact Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.