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Softball: Bemidji advances to section finals, will compete for state berth

Chelsea Yost was a tower of strength both at the plate and on the mound Thursday, pitching Bemidji past Brainerd 4-0 and into the Section 8-3A finals next week. She hurled a three hit shutout, sruck out 10 and hit a two-run homer in the sixth inning to cement the victory. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

The Bemidji softball team will return to the Section 8-3A tournament for the first time in five years Monday after taking the North Subsection title 4-0 Thursday over Brainerd.

Bemidji went through the four team event unbeaten, beating Moorhead once and Brainerd twice.

Brainerd reached the final with a 7-0 win over Alexandria in Thursday's opener.

It advances the team to Monday's 3 p.m. game against the South subsection champ. It will then face the Central subsection winner at five.

The South and Central play the opener at 1.

The two or three survivors return to the site, as yet unannounced, for Thursday's finals playing one or two games as needed.

Big Lake is the defending champion after beating Alexandria in the final in 2008.

It was the Chelsea Yost show once again Thursday.

The big righthander set down the Warriors on three hits, working out of her only jam in the fifth to retire six of the next seven batters down the stretch.

As in the first Brainerd game, she also had the key hit, a two run home run in the sixth that doubled the score.

Earlier that frame, Emily Larson had stroked a solo shot/.

Until that frame, Yost and freshman lefthander Nikki Anderson had dueled on even terms.

Anderson had given up four hits with the lone run unearned.

Bemidji scored in the third when Amber Teal singled with two outs and scored from first when Kaia Sele's routine fly to right was misplayed into a two base error.

Bemidji had runners at second and third with one out in the fourth but Anderson struck out the next two batters to strand them there.

Brainerd had runners at first and third with one gone in the fifth on a hit and error. But Yost ended that threat with a strikeout and comebacker. She was never threatened again.

Larson cranked a high fastball well over the center field fence to open the sixth,

Paige Jensen doubled to deep left center and after advancing on a sacrifice, trotted home ahead of Yost's blast over the left center field fence.

Carlie Manton came on at this point to retire the side.

That pair fanned five and walked none.

Yost fanned 10 and walked none to reach 11-2.Bemidji ended with seven hits, three for extra bases.

Yost will be back on the mound Monday, probably pitching both games.

It is the first trip to the sectional since the Becky Rasmussen days in the early decade when Bemidji reached that level five times, losing three straight seasons to Willmar.

The team is still seeking its first trip to the state.

"This may well be the best all around team we have put on the field," said Coach Brad Takkunen. "It has better hitting than any of the groups that reached the section meet earlier."

The win lifted Bemidji to 19-2 still four short of the record 23 in 2004. Brainerd ended 15-6.

Brainerd 000-000-0---0--3--1

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Anderson and Grammar

Yost (11-2) ad Gullickson