Solid defense, pitching lead to victory
BEMIDJI - As the Bemidji High School softball team learned this weekend, defense matters.
After committing eight errors in three games during their road trip to the Twin Cities last weekend, BHS head coach Brad Takkunen knew the Lumberjacks would need to play better in the field down the stretch.
In Tuesday's game against Duluth East, Takkunen got his wish. Bemidji's near-flawless glovework, combined with solid pitching from Jess Yost and 10 hits on offense, led the Lumberjacks past the Greyhounds 5-1.
"(The defense has) been a little suspect," Takkunen said of Bemidji's recent play in the field. "We just haven't made all the plays recently.
"We had a very good pitching performance today, but probably even better was our solid defense."
On Tuesday, the Lumberjacks nearly made every play. Aside from a misplayed fly ball with two outs in the seventh inning, the Bemidji defense vacuumed everything hit its way.
It was a nice bounceback win after that trip to the Twin Cities. In addition to the eight errors in those games, the Lumberjacks (7-3) also gave up 22 runs.
"This was a very good game, and a really good way to bounce back," Takkunen said. "That last game we played (against Tartan on Saturday) was a real struggle but we ended up winning 13-11. This was a really good game to back it up with."
Yost benefitted from her team's improved defense. She struck out seven and induced nine groundouts, giving up only six hits in the process.
Yost took the tough-luck loss Saturday, giving up six hits in a 3-0 loss to Mounds View.
"Against Mounds View we didn't play real solid defense to support her," Takkunen said. "But the girls did that for her today."
Yost's teammates also gave her plenty of run support.
Janelle Williams capped a four-run third inning with a three-run home run to left. Her two-out blast gave Bemidji a 5-0 lead and was part of a 2-for-3 day for the senior. She also singled in the second and came around to score the Lumberjacks' first run following a Bri Neumann double.
"We have a good hitting team," Takkunen said. "I mean, we've taken some lumps here and there but today I thought we saw the ball pretty good."
Neumann, Jineane Williams and Jordyn Follis joined Janelle Williams with two hits off Greyhounds hurler Avery Ziegler, who took the loss. Ziegler struck out six and walked only two but couldn't contain the Bemidji bats.
Duluth East (4-3) hit the ball hard only once -- a line-drive double in the second inning.
And the Greyhounds barely troubled Yost.
They scored their first run in the fifth inning when Yost loaded the bases with one out, but the Bemidji sophomore quickly got herself out of the jam.
The Lumberjacks conceded a run when Ellie Mostrom grounded out to shortstop, but Yost struck out Michelle Stingle on three straight pitches to end the threat and leave the game at 5-1.
Yost also faced a first-and-third situation in the sixth inning but induced another groundout to end the threat.
"It was just a good performance," Takkunen said. "The girls worked hard, stayed loose and had fun today. That's what it's about."
The Lumberjacks return to action Thursday when they travel to Fergus Falls.
Duluth East 000 010 0 - 1 6 1
Bemidji 014 000 x - 5 10 1
Ziegler (L) and Buckner. K-6, BB-2.
Yost (W) and Black. K-7, BB-2.