Bemidji softball team faces Alexandria today in must-win contest
BEMIDJI — The Lumberjacks and Brainerd have been heated rivals for decades and Monday the Warriors added fuel to that fire by defeating Bemidji in the Section 8-3A softball and playoff playoffs.
Those setbacks dropped the Jacks into the loser’s bracket in both sports. The good news is that both teams will have the home field advantage as they try to survive another day.
The softball team lost 7-4 to Brainerd on Monday and will resume its quest for a section title 4 p.m. today when it hosts Alexandria.
BHS (17-4) is the top seed in the section while the Cardinals (14-4) are ranked third. While the Lumberjacks and Alexandria battle, on the adjacent field ninth-seeded St. Cloud Apollo (7-15) will take on No. 6 Big Lake (14-8).
The winners of the two 4 p.m. games will advance to a 6 p.m. elimination game at the high school field. That winner will advance to Thursday’s elimination bracket final.
Bemidji opened defense of its section championship by blitzing Sartell 10-0 in Monday’s opening round. In the quarterfinals, however, the Lumberjacks dropped a 13-3 decision to Brainerd on the winner’s diamond.
That loss dropped fifth-seeded BHS into the loser’s bracket and Bemidji will try to continue its playoff run 7:30 p.m. Thursday when it hosts No. 9 St. Michael-Albertville at the BSU diamond.
The late start is necessary because the field is hosting the Section 8A playoffs that same day. The first section game starts at 10 a.m. and the final 8A game is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start.
The Bemidji-Sartell contest will follow that game.
Thursday’s winner will advance to an 11 a.m. Monday game against either Rocori or Moorhead. That game will be hosted by either Big Lake or Sauk Rapids.
Thursday’s winner’s bracket games find No. 4 Brainerd visiting No. 1 Alexandria and No. 11 Moorhead traveling to No. 7 Rocori.
With the exception of Moorhead and Rocori advancing in the winner’s bracket, the Section 8-3A tournament has followed form. Moorhead is the surprise team of the tournament as the Spuds opened with a 2-1 upset of No. 6 Monticello and then surprised No. 3 Big Lake 4-1.
“Before the tournament I thought that a couple of the higher seeds might lose but with Moorhead and Rocori in the winner’s division the bottom of the bracket is blown up,” said Bemidji coach Mike Fogelson. “There is parity in this section and anything can happen.”
Fogelson is hoping that the Lumberjacks can make things happen on Thursday.
“I know everybody is excited to be home for this game,” the coach said. “We’re still the defending champions and our first goal for the tournament was to make it to Thursday.
“We have done that and now our goal is to keep going. We are taking the tournament one step at a time and we plan on hanging around as long as we can,” the coach added.
Drew Peterson will get the pitching assignment for Thursday’s game and Fogelson believes that the Jacks will do well if the defense can rise to the occasion.
“Winning always starts on the mound but our defense will need to make the plays to compliment the pitching,” Fogelson said. “Against Brainerd our defense was not very good. We gave Brainerd its first four runs and then Brainerd’s offense gained confidence and they started to drive the ball.
“But if we make the plays on Thursday we should be fine.”
Track teams head to DL
The Section 8-2A boys and girls track and field meet begins today in Detroit Lakes and the section finals will be Friday in Sartell.
The Lumberjacks expect to do well in the section meet and BHS could advance athletes to the state meet in a number of events.
Not all of the track and field events will be held today as some of them will wait until Friday’s second day of competition. Based on qualification times and distances, however, Bemidji could be among the leaders in a handful of today’s events.
On the girls side Ali Heifort is ranked No. 1 in the section in the discus. Emily Falldorf owns the second spot in the high jump and Jenna Truedson is seeded No. 2 in the 3,200.
Bemidji’s other top-10 seeds in today’s girls events include Maea Wall in the long jump and Adriane Rickert in the high jump.
On the boys side Elias Hendrickson is the top-ranked runner in the 800. Brady Schmidt is seeded in the top 10 in three events, including the 100 (fourth), long jump (sixth) and 200 (ninth).
Nate Gubbels is ranked eighth in the 300 hurdles and Tanner Phillips enters the 110 hurdles seeded 10th.