SOFTBALL: Beavers split in first home games since 2019
Bemidji State played on its home field for the first time in 702 days on Monday.
BEMIDJI -- The Bemidji State softball team had spent so long away from home, it’s no surprise that the Beavers decided to play extra innings on Monday.
Playing on the BSU softball field for the first time since April 27, 2019 -- an incredible 702 days ago -- Bemidji State ushered in the conference season with an 8-4 win and 4-3 loss to split a doubleheader against Minnesota Crookston.
“It’s awesome,” BSU head coach Brittany Gomez-Olson said of playing at home. “It’s exciting to be playing the game, really, because of how much we missed last year. You never know when the game can be taken away from you, and that was a prime example of what had happened last year.”
The coronavirus pandemic afforded the Beavers just 22 games before sinking its teeth into the season and canceling the remainder of the year. Bemidji State played its final game on March 13, 2020, just four days before BSU’s scheduled home opener.
“(We) try to remind them to appreciate it every single time you go out,” Gomez-Olson said. “They have an actual experience that has happened, which took the game away from them. We try to reiterate it every single time we go to practice, every single time we go out to the field -- or anything they do.”
And so when the Beavers hosted the Golden Eagles on Monday, it was the first time since April 2019 that their familiar field had seen any game action.
Bemidji State (5-11, 1-1 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference) made the most of it, too, scoring eight runs between the fifth and sixth innings of game one.
Trailing 2-0 entering the fifth frame, BSU exploded with five runs. Lexi Derrick, Emmarie Yeager and Stephi Dullum all had RBI singles, with Dullum’s knock bringing two runs home. Ashley Herold also walked with the bases loaded to push a run across.
Although Minnesota Crookston (5-11, 1-1 NSIC) scored twice more in the sixth to make it a 5-4 game, Sami Dullum singled in a run and Derrick doubled for two more in the home half of the sixth.
“It catches like fire,” Gomez-Olson said of the offense. “Once somebody gets on, you just keep it rolling. That’s what we need.”
Stephi Dullum tossed a complete game to pick up the win from the circle, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits while striking out six.
Game two of the doubleheader went to extra innings. Sami Dullum had a first-inning RBI double and then scored on a wild pitch, but the Beavers still trailed 3-2 entering the bottom of the sixth. Stephi Dullum came through in the clutch, singling in the tying run with two outs.
Although BSU showed resiliency late, it couldn’t keep up in the eighth inning. Second baseman Grace Bragg dropped a pop-up that allowed the go-ahead run to score, and then the Beaver bats struck out swinging in the bottom half of the inning to go down in order.
“We’ve just got to make the plays we need to be making,” Gomez-Olson said. “And then not striking out as much, still making contact with the ball and making adjustments throughout the game.”
Bemidji State finished with 11 strikeouts during game two, tallying a total of 21 on the day.
Kaidron McClafferty didn’t allow an earned run, but she was still stuck with the loss after pitching the final two innings and allowing the one unearned run.
The Beavers won’t have to wait nearly as long for their next home game. Southwest Minnesota State is scheduled to be in Bemidji for a Friday, April 2, doubleheader starting at 1 p.m.
“We were excited going into the year this year, to get our season in,” Gomez-Olson said. “It’s exciting for everyone to be outside, (have) an opportunity to play. And it’s an opportunity to play on our field.”
Bemidji State 8, Minnesota Crookston 4
UMC 001 102 0 -- 4-7-1
BSU 000 053 X -- 8-10-3
WP: St. Dullum (CG, 7 IP, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K)
LP: Humhej (CG, 6 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 3 ER, 4 BB 10 K)
Minnesota Crookston 4, Bemidji State 3
UMC 110 010 01 -- 4-7-2
BSU 200 001 00 -- 3-5-4
WP: Humhej (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K)
LP: McClafferty (2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K)