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Bemidji's Brianna Neumann slides into third base easily with a triple in the second inning against Grand Forks Red River on Thursday evening. The Lumberjacks won 4-0 behind Jess Yost's 17-strikeout no-hitter. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Strikeout machine: Yost fans 17, no-hits Grand Forks Red River

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BEMIDJI - Following a stellar performance in the circle Thursday afternoon, Bemidji pitcher Jess Yost didn't think she'd given the fans in attendance at the BHS softball diamond much to cheer for.

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"That probably wasn't very fun for the crowd, since they didn't see too much action," the Lumberjacks junior said following Bemidji's 4-0 win against Grand Forks Red River.

Either Yost was just being humble, or she underestimated her own pitching abilities.

Whatever it was, Yost didn't need to brag. Her pitching spoke for itself.

She struck out 17 Red River batters, holding them hitless in the process, and Bemidji beat Red River 4-0.

The state record for strikeouts in a regular, seven-inning game is 21. Yost won't make the record books, but it's certainly her own personal record.

"I've definitely never had that many," Yost said. "At least, not in high school. Maybe when I was a little kid."

The win improves the Lumberjacks to 9-6 on the year.

"That was just a great performance by Jess," Bemidji head coach Brad Takkunen said. "She usually gets a lot of strikeouts, but certainly today was a lot more than normal."

Much of that had to do with the wind blowing in from the outfield on an otherwise warm day.

"The wind definitely helped," Yost said. "It made my pitches move a little bit more. And the ump was giving me the outside corner, too."

Although Red River's leadoff batter, Jaiden Hansen, reached on an error in the first inning, Yost struck out No. 2-hitter Taylor Bye to begin a string of 15 straight batters retired. And after Brenna Nakonechny grounded out for the second out of the first, Yost responded by striking out Kenzie Dorsher to retire the side.

She proceeded to strike out the side in the next three innings. Every single Roughrider struck out at least once in the game, and only three reached base -- two on errors and one on a walk. In all, Yost struck out 10 straight in that span.

"She was overpowering them," Takkunen said. "With the wind blowing in, it gave the impression that she was throwing harder than she was. A lot of pitches were down in the zone, too, which is real hard to hit."

Yost's effort was nearly wasted, though, as the Lumberjacks had an equally tough time hitting Red River hurler Emily Lundby. The Jacks scattered hits in each of the first four innings, but didn't get on the board until the fifth.

Jordyn Follis started the inning with a single, then came home following a single from Jasmine Yerbich, a passed ball and another single from Courtney Black.

Takkunen was concerned that the Lumberjacks couldn't get anything going in the early innings.

"We had some opportunities but couldn't put the bat on the ball consistently enough," he said. "We were getting underneath it and this wind was holding up."

That changed in the sixth inning. The Lumberjacks got the insurance they needed, and it started, fittingly, with Yost, who hit a screaming line drive double to right center field to lead off the inning. She made it to third on the throw and came around to score on a line drive from Follis.

"We couldn't get many balls to really go very far because the wind was blowing in," Yost said. "But, with my hit... I guess I just hit it really hard and got all of it. It was good to get the inning going."

Yost's big hit give the Jacks a big boost, as subsequently they loaded the bases in the inning and added two more runs to go up 4-0.

Yost came out in the seventh and struck out the final two Red River hitters following a one-out Bemidji error.

Yerbich led the Bemidji offense, going 3-for-4 with an RBI. Janelle Williams went 2-for-4 while Follis went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.

"It had been a little while since we'd played, so it took a while to get going," Takkunen said of Bemidji's slow start. "But you've gotta give (Red River) credit. That pitcher kept them in the game. We didn't strike out much, we just didn't get the hits we needed until late."

Bemidji returns to action Saturday at section rival Buffalo.

Red River 000 000 0 - 0 0 2

Bemidji 000 013 x - 4 10 1

Lundby (L) and Dahl. K-2. BB-3

Yost (W) and Black. K-17. BB-1.

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
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