SOFTBALL: Bemidji can’t thaw out bats as St. Cloud lifts off to play-in win

The eighth-seeded Jacks couldn’t solve Crush starter Lola Jacobs on Monday at the BHS softball field.

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Bemidji head coach Brad Takkunen talks to the Lumberjacks on the field after a season-ending loss in a Section 8-4A Tournament game against St. Cloud on Monday, May 23, 2022, at the BHS softball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer
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BEMIDJI – The Bemidji High School softball team has endured a lot this season.

The Lumberjacks have had games canceled due to snow, hail, rain and any type of weather you could think of. They’ve played on football turf and dead grass.

But through it all, they muddled through and managed to earn themselves a home play-in game against ninth-seeded St. Cloud in the Section 8-4A Tournament.

Unfortunately for the eighth-seeded Jacks, they couldn’t solve Crush starter Lola Jacobs in that matchup on Monday at the BHS softball field. Jacobs pitched a complete-game shutout, ending any hope Bemidji had of extending its season in a 6-0 loss.

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Bemidji junior Madison Nistler fields the ball in the seventh inning during a Section 8-4A Tournament game against St. Cloud on Monday, May 23, 2022, at the BHS softball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“I thought we put in a good effort,” BHS head coach Brad Takkunen said. “We just couldn't get the bats going. And being that we weren't able to put any pressure on them offensively over the course of probably six innings, it was a tough way to try to compete.”


The Lumberjacks (7-11) managed just one hit in the game, a bloop single by Chloe Hasbargen in the third inning. Their best offensive opportunity came in the bottom of the seventh, when Hasbargen started a rally with a one-out walk. Kat Malterud then reached on an error by Jacobs, sending Hasbargen to second base. Jody Pemberton later drew a two-out walk to load the bases.

But Payton Weidemann grounded out to third, and BHS finished the contest with no runs on the board against the Crush (11-10).

The score was level at 0-0 through four innings, but Bemidji faced a formidable hill to climb as the game stretched deeper. St. Cloud opened up a 3-0 lead in the top of the fifth, and another three-run rally in the seventh placed extensive pressure on the Lumberjacks’ hitters with just three outs remaining.

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Assistant coach Kristin Weidemann high-fives Bemidji senior Katarina Malterud, right, after Malterud made it to first base in a Section 8-4A Tournament game against St. Cloud on Monday, May 23, 2022, at the BHS softball field.
Madelyn Haasken / Bemidji Pioneer

“They were able to string a couple hits together there to get three runs, and then we just couldn't get it going offensively,” Takkunen said. “And so we just kind of got stuck. But I told them (afterward) that it seemed like they were in a good frame of mind. They were competing and we were making plays. You’ve got to give credit to St. Cloud, because they came up with a couple of big hits in key moments.”

The single-elimination ending of the play-in was an abrupt one for a team used to double-elimination brackets in the section tournament, but Takkunen said Bemidji’s approach wasn’t too different heading into Monday’s must-win game. After all, ending up in the losers bracket isn’t an ideal situation, either.

“My approach for them was just to try to get them to focus on the task at hand, whether it's a double elimination or a single elimination,” Takkunen said. “It's a little bit different in the sense that when you lose, you're done, and the finality of that certainly hits in this case. But you still want to try to put yourself in the best situation to potentially be in that winners bracket as much as you can, because as soon as you get in that losers bracket, the task gets much tougher.”

BHS will have a tall task replacing its seniors from this season, all of whom played sizable roles in the team’s success. Mariah Graves, Lexie Tatro, Hasbargen, Malterud and Pemberton all started Monday’s game, and none of them will be around next year when Bemidji retakes the field.

“Five special seniors,” Takkunen said. “All good kids, all wanting to compete and put a good model out there for the other kids to be part of. But it just didn't work out the way we wanted it to.”


St. Cloud 6, Bemidji 0

STC 000 030 3 – 6-9-2

BHS 000 000 0 – 0-1-6

WP: Jacobs (CG, 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 10 K)

LP: Shogren (5 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K)

Christian Babcock is a sports reporter at the Bemidji Pioneer. He trekked to Bemidji from his hometown of Campbell, Calif., after graduating from the Cronkite School at Arizona State University in 2021. Follow him on Twitter at @CB_Journalist for updates on the Lumberjacks and Beavers or to suggest your favorite local restaurant.
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