May 17, 2022 at 6:35 p.m.

Softball sisters make magic on the mound

Softball sisters make magic on the mound
Softball sisters make magic on the mound

By Evan Michealson- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

From an early age, it seemed like Marnie and Ellie Grieve were destined for childhoods full of softball success.

The grandchildren of Bud Heidgerken, the founder of the boys and girls fastpitch softball leagues in Freeport, Marnie and Ellie got their start under the watchful eye of Heidgerken, himself a longtime pitcher, continuing the tradition of softball in the family.

“I feel like when everyone else was doing it in my family, I had to carry it on and be in it,” Ellie said.

However, softball quickly become more than an expectation and obligation for the Grieves, who now comprise one of the most dangerous 1-2 pitching combinations in the area for the Melrose Area Lady Dutchmen softball team. 

“I think it’s been really fun seeing how much we can grow and how strong we are,” Ellie said.

While the Grieves, daughters of Andy and Holly of Freeport, have certainly grown since their first introduction to their eventual pastime, Heidgerken saw greatness in them from the very beginning. Outside of any physical attributes, Marnie and Ellie’s illustrious grandfather saw in them the “want,” the constant drive to get better. 

“They took an interest to it right away, which is important,” Heidgerken said. “Sometimes, you have children or grandchildren that will try it just because you want them to try it, but they’ve had their own interest. The desire to compete is there.”

This unfostered competitiveness led to the girls jumping into youth softball when they got the chance, albeit in different years due to their age difference; Marnie is a senior and Ellie is a freshman. Outside of their contributions to the Lady Dutchmen, the Grieves also play in a fall league in Osakis and a dome league in the Twin Cities. And, of course, the girls are a staple of the Freeport leagues put on every summer by their grandfather. The sheer number of ballgames the sisters cram into an eventful year of athletics lends itself toward handling an often-hectic spring softball season. 

“Playing year-round makes it so we don’t wear out when we play six games in a week,” Marnie said. 

Experience for the Grieves is not limited to competitions. At practices, Ellie and Marnie are always partners for pitching practice and are each other’s biggest supporters. After all, they each know what it is like taking the mound and having the entire game in your hands.

“Whenever we get on the mound, there’s always cheering,” Ellie said. “She’s (Marnie) someone I can rely on, knowing she can always come in if I’m struggling.”

Perhaps it is this empathetic link, or the vast years of collective softball recreation, but the Grieves are very similar in their delivery and approach, although Marnie’s pitches have more movement due to having crafted a longer high school career. Something shared by the sisters is their comfort staring down opposing hitters. When they give up a base hit or make an error, they can quickly refocus on the road ahead.

“They don’t let things rattle them, which is good,” Heidgerken said. “They’ve got the ability to pitch. They learn very quickly and learn from their mistakes, and we should all learn from our mistakes.”

Melrose Area’s electric 8-5 start has seen some clinical performances from the Grieves, including a monstrous doubleheader showing against Minnewaska Area April 21 that showed the Lady Dutchmen were a force to be reckoned with. Marnie displayed impressive poise in delivering a five-inning, four-hit shutout in a 13-0 win in game one, while Ellie followed by triumphantly showing her stuff, tossing four no-hit inning innings as the Lady Dutchmen secured a team no-hitter in an 11-0 game two victory. 

The team’s success is not a surprise to Marnie and Ellie, who share a bond with their Melrose Area teammates that extends outside the diamond. 

“This team has been together since I started, so we’ve grown up together, which makes it easier to play with each other and know each other,” Marnie said.

The Lady Dutchmen know they have the talent to make it to the Minnesota State High School League Softball State Tournament, but regardless of whether the squad makes it that far or not, the team’s passion, led by a dynamic pitching duo in Marnie and Ellie Grieve, has been a joy to watch for all involved.

“They love the game and that’s the most important thing, and they do really well at it,” Heidgerken said. “I’m proud of those two girls.”


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