'Playing their game:' BHS softball team looks to make it to state
BEMIDJI – When Bemidji trailed St. Cloud Apollo 3-0 heading into the bottom of the second inning during the Section 8-3A softball quarterfinals last week the burden of being the top seed could have been weighing on the players.
A year ago BHS was the second seed but the Jacks could not live up to that billing as they lost 1-0 to Rocori in the quarterfinals.
This time, the seniors, including Bri Newmann, were not going to allow the underdog to pull off another upset.
“As a senior, I need to encourage all of the girls to do their best. I need to show leadership and I need to be a role model,” Newmann said.
Against Apollo Newman had a major role in what would become a 6-3 victory. Her bases-loaded single in the bottom of the second put BHS on the board and helped fuel what would be a decisive 5-run inning.
“When we were down 3-0, I told myself that I had to work harder, I had to put everything I had into that at-bat,” Neumann said. “Heading into that inning we needed to get the momentum back and after we got those five runs we settled down and played our game.”
The Lumberjacks don’t want to wait until the bottom of the second inning to take control when they host Brainerd 2 p.m. Monday in the section semifinals. During the regular season BHS downed the Warriors 7-4 in eight innings in Brainerd but Monday’s game will be in Bemidji and the Jacks hope that playing at home will be an advantage.
“I’m convinced that if we do the job, if we pitch and hit and play our game, we’ll win on Monday,” said BHS coach Brad Takkunen. “But Brainerd is a very good team. They have kids who can hit and play the game. Either team can win this game but if we can keep Brainerd to a hit here and a hit there, instead of letting them bunch their hits, we’ll be okay.”
Bemidji boasts a 17-3 record and is riding a 12-game winning streak. Senior Jasmin Yerbich isn’t surprised that the Lumberjacks have fared so well and she believes that the team can continue its success through the section tournament.
“We’re a veteran club and I feel that we are a pretty good team,” Yerbich said. “My hope and dream when I started playing varsity ball as a sophomore was to make it to state and this club has the ability to do that.”
Yerbich knows what it takes to make it to a state tournament. Last fall she was the libero on the Lumberjacks volleyball team that advanced to the state tournament and posted a 1-2 record at the event.
The softball roster also includes state tournament volleyball veterans Courtney Black, Jess Yost and Hanna Olson.
“Playing at the state volleyball tournament definitely gives the girls who were there a sense of calmness,” Yerbich said. “There is more intensity when you get (deeper) into the section tournament and one of my jobs will be to help calm the girls who don’t have the experience.”
The calmness was evident on the field during Friday’s practice. The Lumberjacks knew what they had to accomplish but they also were having fun.
“This team can goof around with the best of them and I’d like to see them carry that looseness into the games,” Takkunen said. “I really don’t think the girls know how good they are and how good this team really is.”
Section 8-3A Tournament
St. Cloud Apollo 6, St. Cloud Tech 2
Rocori 1, Sartell 0
Sauk Rapids 11, Moorhead 1
Big Lake 14, Monticello 7
Bemidji 6, Apollo 3
Brainerd 6, Rocori 2
Elk River 13, Sauk Rapids 0
Big Lake 9, Alexandria 7
Game 1: Brainerd at Bemidji, 2 p.m.
Game 2: Big Lake at Elk River
Game 3: Apollo at Rocori (loser eliminated)
Game 4: Sauk Rapids at Alexandria (loser eliminated)
Wednesday, May 29
At high seed
Game 5: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
Game 6: Game 3 winner vs. Game 2 loser (loser eliminated)
Game 7: Game 4 winner vs. Game 1 loser (loser eliminated)
Game 8: Game 6 winner vs. Game 7 winner (loser eliminated)
Thursday, May 30
At high seed
Game 9: Game 8 winner vs. Game 5 loser (loser eliminated)
Game 10: Game 5 winner vs. Game 9 winner
Friday, May 31
Game 11: Repeat of Game 10 (if needed)