May 09, 2018 09:37 PM
(ABC 6 News) – The Zumbrota-Mazeppa Cougars has picked up where they left off on the softball diamond following a 2017 state championship—and they’re led by two players who hold an unbreakable bond.
The Cougars, currently the second-ranked team in the Class AA state softball rankings, are the two-time defending Class AA state softball champions—this spring, they’ve leaned heavily on senior pitcher Lyndsey Quam and junior catcher Natalye Quam.
“They enjoy working hard,” Cougars head coach Kevin Nelson said. “They’ll be the first ones to practice every day and one of the last ones to leave. They’re fun to coach because of that.”
In softball, the bond between a pitcher and their catcher is crucial and can be the deciding factors in tight games and situations.
“Pitching and catching are pretty important to any successful softball team, and they’re as good as any pitcher and catcher combination around,” Nelson said.
Lyndsey Quam, a third-year starter for the Cougars, has primarily played in the infield during her softball career, but she’s transitioned into becoming the Cougars’ ace pitcher.
“When (Lyndsey is) on the mound, she knows how to focus,” Natalye Quam said. “She calms people down if things mess up; she just knows how to do it. She brings the heat for sure. A lot of people haven’t been able to catch up to her speed. She’s very quick, and she just brings a lot.”
Lyndsey Quam is the first one to tell anybody that she wouldn’t be putting together a dominant season in the pitching circle if it wasn’t for her catcher, Natalye Quam.
As a sophomore in 2017, Natalye Quam was a key part of the Cougars’ second-straight championship win—Natalye was selected to the 2017 Class AA All-State Tournament team.
“(Natalye would) never go out there and act like she’s the best; she just quietly does her thing,” Lyndsey Quam said. “She was our spark (at state) last year. She’s a hard-hitting player and it’s awesome.”
The relationship between Lyndsey and Natalye goes beyond being the primary pitcher and catcher combination for the Cougars and sharing the same last name—they’re great students (Nelson said they each hold close to 4.0 grade-point-averages in school), and they’re sisters.
“When one is struggling, the other one is able to go out and talk to them a little more calmly,” Nelson said. “One maybe makes a joke or something to get them back on task or get them focused on what they need to do.”
“Things can obviously go bad (laughs),” Natalye Quam said. “(If it does go bad) We just come in the dugout, talk about what’s not working, how to fix it and we eventually get to that point where we’re on a roll.”
“We have a good dynamic,” Lyndsey Quam added. “We don’t typically fight, so it’s a lot of fun and getting to pitch to (Natalye) and spend a lot of time with her.”
Lyndsey Quam is the lone senior on the team—but strength in senior class numbers is overrated in the Cougars’ dugout because her sister said her presence is “valuable.”
“(Lyndsey) really gets everyone, she pushes everyone,” Natalye Quam said. “She’s such a good role model. She goes into lifting and she puts in a full effort with everything she does. Next year, it’ll be tough to replace what she had here.”
For Lyndsey’s younger sister, the game of softball has slowed down quite a bit.
“(Natalye) can hit in a tight situation and a stressful situation,” Lyndsey Quam said. “She’ll be the one to get a hit through the gap. I’ll pitch a wild pitch, she’ll block it and she won’t allow that run to score.”
“She’s thrown out a number of base runners this year at first base, second base, third base, all the way around the diamond,” Nelson added. “Her hitting has also been very good this year; she’s batting close to .450.”
Natalye’s batting average jumps off the stat sheet, but only one statistic matters to the Quam sisters and the two-time defending state champion Cougars, and that’s winning games.
“We can’t act like we’re champions, so we have to come and know that we’re not the best,” Lyndsey Quam said. “To be the best, we have to come to practice and work hard every day.”
Updated: May 09, 2018 09:37 PM
Created: May 09, 2018 05:07 PM
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