The Bemidji softball team begins its quest for a state tournament berth 6 p.m. today at home, battling either Monticello or St. Cloud Apollo in a Section 8AAA elimination contest.
The Lumberjacks (15-4) received the third seed in the section while Monticello (8-9) was ranked sixth and Apollo (4-13) 11th. Those teams will lock horns at 4 p.m. today in Bemidji and the winner will play the Jacks. For the loser, the season will end.
Brainerd and Big Lake also await first-round winners today. Brainerd (17-2) received the section's top seed and will host the winner of No. 8 St. Cloud Tech (7-13) and No. 9 Sauk Rapids (6-14).
Today's other upper-bracket game pits fifth ranked Elk River (10-10) at fourth rated Alexandria (14-6).
In the lower bracket No. 7 Sartell (9-11) tangles with No. 10 Moorhead (6-10) and that winner will take on No. 2 Big Lake (15-5) in Big Lake.
Today's survivors advance to Monday's 8AAA final four and the double-elimination action will be hosted by the remaining top seed. In order for BHS to host Monday's games, Brainerd and Big Lake must both lose today.
Monday's openers are scheduled for noon and at 2 p.m. the winners will lock horns and the losers will tangle in an elimination game.
After Monday's play the field will be narrowed to three teams. The two squads with one loss will open the action on June 2 and that survivor will take on the unbeaten team. A third game, if necessary, will be played June 3.
Bemidji didn't play many of the Section 8AAA softball teams that it could face in the tournament that begins today so it is difficult to determine exactly where each team should be placed in the postseason seedings.
When it was announced that the Lumberjacks would be ranked third and host a second-round game, however, Takkunen was satisfied.
"You only get to host one game unless you are the top seed," the coach said. "I don't think we played enough AAA schools to get that top seed.
"Some of the AA schools on our schedule probably are better in terms of competition than many AAA teams but the way our section seedings are set up, you don't get rewarded for quality. You get rewarded for the stature of the teams on your schedule, not necessarily their ability."
BHS will entertain Monticello and St. Cloud Apollo at 4 p.m. today and that winner will face the Jacks at 6 p.m. Monticello was ranked sixth and brings an 8-9 record into the tournament while Apollo is rated 11th and owns a 4-13 record.
"We didn't play either team," Takkunen said. "Apollo is the team that ended our season last year and Monticello consistently plays quality teams and I'm sure is better than its record would show."
Takkunen hasn't decided upon a lineup but he has given the pitching nod to Jess Yost.
Many of the girls on Bemidji's roster have extensive tournament experience through other sports, including the girls who advanced to the state tournament in girls basketball and to the section championship game in hockey.
"I would think that experience will help us," Takkunen said. "Our goal is to just do our job because if we do, no matter who we play, winning will take care of itself."