SOFTBALL: Bolte singles thrice, Jacks knock off Alex with solid all-around effort
Bemidji maintained a level head on Saturday, shaking off a slow start and a wacky play in the sixth inning to defeat Alexandria 5-2 in its final regular-season home game this year.
BEMIDJI – Things don’t always go as planned in softball.
Sometimes, a team must adjust on the fly when a miscue occurs or a promising inning is suddenly shut down. Thus, it helps to have level-headed players who can respond quickly.
The Bemidji High School softball team exemplified that on Saturday, shaking off a slow start and a wacky play in the sixth inning to defeat Alexandria 5-2 in its final regular-season game this year.
“I’m very happy with the way they played,” BHS head coach Brad Takkunen said. “There's a lot of emotion with the seniors right now. We’ve got one that has a grad party today. It's getting to that time of the year where every last day is one less. So a lot of emotions that way, and for them to try to manage that and then compete, it takes a little bit to get going.”
Alexandria (1-13) took an early lead with a leadoff double that scored on a two-out single, but the Lumberjacks (7-11) responded in the second inning. Beth Bolte started the frame with a single, stole second, then advanced to third on Adie Potratz’s sacrifice bunt. With two outs, a wild pitch got past the Alex catcher, and Bolte raced home to score the Jacks’ first run.
“It seemed to me that first inning, our at-bats weren't super good,” Takkunen said. “But then we got the juices flowing, so to speak, and then got going. But yeah, managing our composure, trying to relax and just enjoy the moment, that was kind of the big thing today.”
In the third inning, Bemidji started to take control of the game. Elizabeth Oster scored Mady Nistler on a single, then Bolte batted in Oster to give BHS a 3-1 lead.
The Lumberjacks extended the advantage in the fourth inning with Oster’s RBI triple, then went up 5-1 in the fifth on Annika Nelson’s run-scoring base hit.
“It felt good,” said Bolte, who raked three singles to left field while catching all seven innings. “It was good to go out there and play how we know we can play, making plays. Aleah (Shogren) pitched really great. Defensively, we did really well. And then offensively, we got the bats going at times when we needed them to. A lot of our runs came (with) two outs too.
Controversy ensued in the sixth inning and threatened to destabilize the Jacks’ excellent performance. With one out, Cardinals hitter Addy Johnson popped up to Oster, who had moved from first base to second defensively. Oster made the play, but it was overturned after the fact because she was still wearing her first baseman’s mitt.
Johnson was granted first base, with the second out taken off the board. She later scored on an error, bringing the Cardinals within three runs. But the Lumberjacks kept their heads, and Shogren retired the next two batters in order to end the inning.
Takkunen disputed the ruling during and after the game, but he was happy it didn’t affect the outcome – and even more pleased with how BHS settled back into solid play to close out the contest.
“That was a moment where it was kind of like we lost our focus for a second,” Takkunen said. “Like, ‘Hey, what's going on?’ And we start thinking about things, and then you lose your focus on the task at hand, which is understandable. But fortunately, to their credit, they came back, made the next play and kept going.”
Shogren found her stride after the initial inning, pitching a complete game with one earned run allowed on three hits, plus no walks and eight strikeouts.
The eighth-seeded Jacks will return to the diamond for the Section 8-4A play-in game against ninth-seeded Buffalo at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, May 22, back at the BHS field.
Bemidji 5, Alexandria 2
ALX 100 001 0 – 2-3-0
BHS 012 110 X – 5-12-1
WP: Shogren (CG, 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K)
LP: Hurntin (3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K)