Softball: Bemidji rallies to edge Fergus Falls 8-7
BEMIDJI -- During the course of a softball season a big inning, a few key at-bats or a strong pitching performance could become the catalyst for a run that leads to success in the postseason.
Friday at the Bemidji High School diamond, behind clutch doubles by Hanna Olson and Sylvia Grimm and Abby Hinrichs' game-winning single, the Lumberjacks rallied for three runs in the bottom of the sixth and the big inning lifted BHS to an 8-7 victory over Fergus Falls.
The decisive rally also included three key relief innings by Heather Olson as the sophomore allowed only one unearned run and kept the Lumberjacks in the game long enough for the offense to take charge.
"We dug ourselves a hole but the competitiveness that came out and our never-die attitude was great to see," said BHS coach Brad Takkunen. "This is the way we have battled most of the season. We don't quit and we did just enough things right to win the game."
Until the decisive sixth inning Bemidji's prospects of coming out on top appeared dim. The Jacks took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Hanna Olson walked and eventually scored when Otter pitcher Laura Gaustad muffed Jordyn Follis' nubber in front of the plate.
The visitors stranded only one runner through two innings but their offense caught fire in the third. A double, two long singles to the outfield, a bunt single and a walk combined for four runs and the Lumberjacks had to play catch-up the rest of the way.
That comeback started in the lower third when Grimm blasted a pitch well over the centerfield fence for a solo home run. A strong wind was blowing out to left-center but Grimm's shot would have cleared the barrier no matter which way the wind was blowing.
Fergus Falls regained the momentum in the upper fourth as a pair of singles and Devoine Smith's double combined for two runs and a 6-2 advantage.
"You have to credit Fergus Falls," Takkunen said. "They hit some shots in those middle innings."
Grimm's blast seemed to ignite her teammates, however, and in the lower fourth BHS scored three runs and closed the deficit to 6-4.
Mariah Dahl started the rally with a double to center and an out later she scored when Tori Koch doubled to left. When Karman Clark's third-strike pitch was dropped by the catcher, Koch alertly raced for third and the Lumberjack junior continued home when the throw to third sailed into left field.
Hanna Olson capped the inning with a home run that cleared the left field fence.
"It took some time for our hitters to adjust to the Fergus Falls pitching," Takkunen said. "We were swinging ahead of the pitch but finally we stayed back and hit the ball up the middle. And we hit the ball hard."
Heather Olson relieved Monica Wittner on the BHS mound to start the fifth inning and the Otters managed one unearned run in the upper fifth.
Trailing 7-5, however, Bemidji went to work with two down in the bottom of the sixth.
Hanna Olson ignited the rally with a double and she scored when Heather Olson's ground ball was booted. Grimm's double plated Heather Olson and, after Follis walked, Abby Hinrichs plated pinch runner Jenna Thompson with a solid knock to left.
Hanna Olson and Grimm both contributed a double and a home run. Olson scored three runs and drove in another. Grimm had two RBIs.
Abby Hinrichs also had a productive game as she belted three singles.
"I hope this comeback win will spur us the rest of the way," Takkunen said. "We needed some kids to get going and on Friday they did."
Bemidji (7-7) completes a busy week today when it heads to Fargo North for a doubleheader beginning at 12:30 p.m.
Bemidji 8, Fergus Falls 7
Fergus Falls 004 210 0 - 7 11 3
Bemidji 101 303 x - 8 10 4
Gaustad (L) and Boese. K-6, BB-3
Wittner, Heather Olson (5, W) and A.Hinrichs. K-5, BB-3