SOFTBALL: Lumberjacks unload 20 runs in playoff opener
Explosive performances at the plate and inside the pitcher’s circle fueled a dominant 20-1 victory for the Bemidji High School softball team in its postseason opener on Tuesday.
BEMIDJI -- Explosive performances at the plate and inside the pitcher’s circle fueled a dominant 20-1 victory for the Bemidji High School softball team in its postseason opener on Tuesday.
The third-seeded Lumberjacks erupted for 19 hits to advance to the Section 8-3A winner’s bracket semifinals.
Meanwhile, BHS ace Taylor Waukazo was nearly unhittable as she struck out seven and allowed only two hits in the four-inning contest.
“I can’t ask for anything more,” head coach Brad Takkunen said. “The reality is we just kept putting the ball in play and putting the ball in play hard.”
The 20 runs are the most the Jacks have scored in a game since a 23-3 win over Moorhead on May 12, 2011.
Bemidji has now won 10 in a row and has defeated the sixth-seeded Lakers (2-19) in each of its last three games, including a doubleheader sweep last week to end the regular season. At 11-10, the Lumberjacks are above .500 for the first time all year.
“It just brings back memories from other section games where we started off hot and we just kept going,” said senior Peyton Oelrich, who hit 2-for-2 and notched three of her four RBIs on a bases-clearing triple during the 13-run second inning.
Waukazo issued her only walk of the afternoon during the game’s first at-bat, but she quickly settled in and retired the side in order to end the inning.
“Then I think the kids settled down,” Takkunen said. “We knew we were going to hit the ball just because we had hit the ball against Detroit Lakes earlier. Today they found some holes with the hits early and we scored some runs. Everyone’s relaxed and having fun again.”
All 20 runs came within the first two frames.
BHS tacked seven runs on the board out of the gate in the first inning.
Hannah Alexander got things started with her RBI single to plate the team its first run. Isabelle Neadeau drew a bases-loaded walk to bring home the eventual winning run that made it 2-0.
Waukazo broke the game open with a two-run single that pushed the lead to 4-0. Singles by Jordan Hunsberger and Beth Bolte spotted the Jacks a 7-0 lead by inning’s end.
Bemidji racked up 13 runs from 14 hits in the second inning to put the game out of reach. BHS batters rattled off nine straight hits to begin the inning. When all was said and done, the Lumberjacks had totaled 11 singles, two doubles and two triples -- by Oelrich and Elizabeth Oster -- in the stanza.
“I think having Taylor come in and be ready also really helped us get ready,” Oelrich said. “Just having the bats going right away and not being nervous or anxious or anything really helped us today.”
The Lakers retired the side in a quiet third inning for Bemidji and mustered their lone run on an error in the fourth inning.
Along with Oelrich, Hunsberger also drove in four runs while hitting 3-for-3 with three singles. Ten Lumberjacks recorded at least one RBI in the game.
BHS will next meet second-seeded Alexandria in the winner’s bracket semifinals at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, June 3, in Alexandria. The Cardinals (14-6), who received a first-round bye, swept a doubleheader at Bemidji by scores of 10-0 and 9-6 to drop the Jacks to 0-3 in the young season on April 22.
The Lumberjacks have made many strides since that April meeting, however.
“We’ve learned some things since then,” Takkunen said. “We’re looking forward to the game. They’re a two seed for a reason. It’s going to be a definite dogfight when we get down there.”
Bemidji 20, Detroit Lakes 1 (four innings)
DL 000 1 -- 1-2-3
BHS 7(13)0 X -- 20-19-1
WP: Waukazo (CG, 4 IP, 1 R, 1 H, 7 K, 1 BB)
LP: Smith (2 IP, 20 R, 17 H, 0 K, 4 BB)