Bemidji HS softball: Jacks rout Monticello to advance in section playoffs
Last Saturday Jess Yost threw a perfect game against Grand Forks Central. Wednesday the freshman wasn't able to match that performance in a 3-hit outing against Monticello but her catcher, Laura Clark, thought that Yost was equally on top of her game.
"I had never caught a perfect game before and it was an honor to be part of it," Clark said. "Against Monticello Jessica pitched as well as she did at Grand Forks. Monticello was a better hitting team but Jessica had another amazing game."
Wednesday the stakes were much higher than at Grand Forks Central as Bemidji was opening its Section 8AAA tournament action. Behind Yost's pitching and an offense that produced 10 hits he Lumberjacks thumped the Magic 11-1 and advanced to Monday's Section 8AAA final four.
Had the Jacks lost Wednesday the season would have ended. Now, however, they join three other teams in a double-elimination tournament.
Brainerd was the top seed heading into the playoffs and if it won Wednesday, which was expected, Brainerd will host the final four.
BHS (16-4) entered Wednesday's contest seeded third in the section while Monticello was ranked sixth. Bemidji coach Brad Takkunen expected a tough contest and for three innings that is what was offered. The Jacks, however, bunched five hits and took advantage of two Magic errors in the fourth inning to score seven runs and settle the issue.
"I could tell we were a little tight at the beginning. We weren't talking and we acted nervous," Takkunen said. "But scoring two runs in the first inning will help get rid of the butterflies and then we had the big inning."
Clark contributed an RBI single in the frame and added another single in the fifth. She admitted to being nervous at the start but said that the team quickly adjusted.
"Once the game starts you get into the flow and realize you need to get the job done," Clark said.
"I thought about this game all day to get focused," Yost said. "My plan was to throw strikes and see what happens."
What happened was a 3-hitter in which Monticello threatened only twice. The Magic used a single, wild pitch, sacrifice bunt and ground ball to score in the third but after that managed only one runner as far as third base.
"Jess threw a great game and the defense did the job," Takkunen said. "Offensively I told the kids to just put the bat on the ball and force Monticello to make the plays."
That tactic resulted in 10 hits and a disintegrating Monticello defense which committed five errors, including two in the decisive fourth inning.
Bemidji used Summer Monsrud's bunt single, two errors on the same play and an RBI grounder to score two runs in the first inning.
After Monticello drew within 2-1 in the third, BHS countered with seven in the fourth. Included in the rally were Taylor McLean's 2-run double, a pair of singles by Janelle Williams, singles by Jineane Williams and Clark plus two costly errors.
"Monticello was a good team but we just didn't back off. We kept putting on the pressure," Takkunen said. "When we had our chances we took advantage of them."
Monticello advanced to the game against Bemidji by downing St. Cloud Apollo 11-10 earlier Wednesday in Bemidji.
Monticello 001 000 - 1 3 5
Bemidji 200 711 - 11 10 3
Yohnke (L), Dockendorf (5) and Pribyl. K-3, BB-3
Yost (W) and Clark. K-4, BB-1