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Bemidji HS softball: Wet weather catches up to Jacks, clips game short

During the past eight days the percentages have caught up with the Bemidji softball team.

"We had a great April as far as getting in games but the last week of April and so far in May it's been a struggle," said BHS coach Brad Takkunen. "And Tuesday was another example."

On April 26 the Lumberjacks blitzed St. Cloud Tech 11-0 in St. Cloud. That game, however, represents the last time the Jacks have hit the diamond.

BHS was scheduled to host Duluth East last Thursday and visit Grand Forks Central on Friday but those games were victims to the rainy conditions.

Bemidji was hoping for a break in the weather Tuesday as it was scheduled to entertain Grand Forks Red River. For much of the day it appeared the weather would cooperate but the clouds arrived in mid-afternoon and by the 4:30 p.m. game time the drizzle began.

The teams played through the intermittent rain showers from the opening pitch but as the fourth inning ended the wet conditions forced the teams into the dugout to wait out the weather.

Unfortunately, the rain persisted and 20 minutes after everyone scattered for cover the umpires toured the infield and decided that the field could not handle any more play.

"We only needed three more outs," Takkunen, whose team led 2-0 when the game was called, said. "Officially, what just happened during the past four innings didn't happen."

For three innings the Lumberjacks looked lethargic at the plate but the bats awoke in the bottom of the fourth as Erika Weimann's double, a walk to Jess Yost and Janelle Williams' single produced two runs.

Prior to that inning, however, BHS was retired in order by Rough Rider pitcher Rachel Koopman who kept BHS off balance with a fast ball and a very slow change-up.

"Our week layoff showed," Takkunen said. "Defensively we played well and our pitching was good. But there wasn't much hitting going on.

"We were impatient with the bats against a pitcher who wasn't throwing hard. We kept swinging at the first pitch presented to us whether it was a good pitch or not."

Instead of playing games during the past week Bemidji has held scrimmages. Although beneficial, those simulated contests cannot duplicate game situations.

"There's no pressure when you are scrimmaging," Takkunen said. "You can scrimmage all you want but you need to face game situations. We need to get in our games."

Janelle Williams went the distance on the Bemidji mound Tuesday and she yielded a pair of doubles and a walk during her four innings of work.

Red River stranded Janelle Carroll at second in the opening frame and Jessica Christenson at second in the fourth. The visitors also hit Williams hard in the third, an inning which opened with a walk but was followed by a lineout to center and a fly out to deep center.

The fly-ball out became a double-play when Jaiden Hansen thought the ball would evade the outfielders and was rounding third when Taylor McLean caught it in the gap.

Williams was making her second mound appearance of the season, having worked two innings in mid-April. She walked only one and fanned three.

"We have pitching depth and we're looking for our best one-two punch," Takkunen said. "Jess (Yost) is our top pitcher and we're looking to see how everyone else ranks."

Tuesday's game could be rescheduled or resumed, depending upon available open dates.

"The Red River coach said he would be willing to come back to Bemidji if he could work it in," Takkunen said. "We also just scheduled a game on May 22 at Grand Forks Central so maybe we could play Red River that day.

"We'll see what we can do."

The Lumberjacks will finish the week on the road, weather permitting, visiting Moorhead on Thursday and Brainerd on Friday. Both games are scheduled for 5 p.m. starts.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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