Burlington’s Morgan Klein fires a pitch during a game at Union Grove last season. Klein has been named the Southern Lakes Newspapers Player of the Year for the second straight year.(Photo by Michael Stefanich)

Player of the Year Klein’s pitching, bat, leadership make her special

By Chris Bennett

Correspondent

The players with the most love for the game and who work the hardest are often found at the end of the bench.

They’re on every team, in every sport, at every school. Their zest and zeal for the game is undeniable, and they’ll hangout for hours in an attempt to get better and, maybe someday, get playing time.

But as touching as their stories often are, and for as much as every team needs players like that on the roster, a mule is never going to win the Kentucky Derby.

It is a truth as old as sports – talent wins. And when a player comes along with God-given talent, unbridled passion and a burning desire to work, something special takes place. You get a player like Burlington’s Morgan Klein.

Klein is the 2022 All-Southern Lakes Newspapers high school softball Player of the Year. It is her second time winning the award. Klein also won last season, in 2021.

Klein’s list of accolades from this past season is impressive. She helped lead the Demons to a 13-1 record in Southern Lakes Conference play and an outright conference title.

Burlington finished 21-4 overall, and advanced to a WIAA Division 1 sectional final. The Demons season ended with a 1-0 loss to Milton June 2 at Oregon, one game short of another berth in the state tournament.

“Obviously, we fell a little shorter than I would have liked this year,” Klein said. “We played a lot of tough teams – it was probably the toughest schedule we’ve played in a long time. Competing with the girls on the team was a lot of fun.”

As a pitcher and outfielder, Klein went 14-2 with a 1.34 ERA and 199 strikeouts in 104 innings pitched. At the plate, Klein batted .494 with 10 doubles, eight home runs, two triples, 38 RBI and 27 runs scored. She posted an on-base percentage of .518 and a slugging percentage of .963.

Klein earned Second Team All-State honors from the Wisconsin Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association and First Team All-WFSCA District 4 honors. Klein also earned First Team All-Southern Lakes Conference honors, and repeated as SLC Player of the Year.

Demons coach Valerie Auseth worked with Klein for three years. The two lost their 2020 season due to the pandemic. Auseth said Klein’s approach to the game rubs off on teammates, and gives the team a lift.

“She works so hard all offseason, outside of practice,” Auseth said. “The girl just loves the game, and you can see that in her performance.

Klein is going to play collegiately at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. St. Thomas will be playing its second season of NCAA Division 1 softball after years in Division III. Klein plans to study Civil Engineering and Spanish.

“I think she’s going to excel up there,” Auseth said. “It will be exciting for her. She’s moving to the next level, and will be able to push herself and work hard. She’ll have those teammates that will do the same for her.”

See the July 14 editions of the Burlington Standard Press, Waterford Post or Westine Report for a story on the All-Area softball team.