SOFTBALL: Unearned heartbreak derails Bemidji’s section run
DETROIT LAKES -- The Bemidji High School softball team dropped from miracle to heartbreak in a heartbeat. The Lumberjacks were an out away from forcing a winner-take-all Section 8-3A championship game against Detroit Lakes, but two last-out error...
DETROIT LAKES -- The Bemidji High School softball team dropped from miracle to heartbreak in a heartbeat.
The Lumberjacks were an out away from forcing a winner-take-all Section 8-3A championship game against Detroit Lakes, but two last-out errors marked the end of Bemidji’s season in a 13-12 loss on Wednesday.
“That’s the nature of the beast,” BHS head coach Brad Takkunen said. “You make plays, you (win). You don’t make plays, you don’t. That’s the risk you take any time you step on that field as an athlete. … You don’t want to be on this end, but at the same time, we did everything we possibly could.”
The No. 2 seed Jacks faced a 9-1 deficit against the No. 3 seed Lakers (17-6) after two innings. Nevertheless, Maddie Hanson pitched in relief and shut DL down from there. And offensively, BHS chipped away to get it within 9-5 after four innings, thanks in large part to a Gracie Fisher three-run home run.
And in the sixth, the miracle came.
BHS ran up seven runs off two hits, two walks and four Detroit Lakes errors. Evette Morgan hit a two-run single, and Hanson blasted a two-run double high off the wall for a 10-9 Bemidji lead.
The Lumberjacks led 12-9 when it was all said and done, and soon after the Lakers were down to their final three outs.
“I mean, it was 9-1. We could’ve just quit,” Takkunen said. “Next thing you know, we’re ahead 12-9. That’s just the way these kids were going at it. They were not going to quit. And they didn’t.”
But in the seventh, the heartbreak came.
Laura Prussia clubbed a two-run homer to trim the BHS lead to 12-11 with nobody out. A pop-up and a strikeout came next, putting Bemidji on the cusp of extending its season, but a single and back-to-back errors allowed Detroit Lakes to walk it off for the section crown.
On the final play -- a grounder to third -- the throw brushed the webbing of Gabbi Takkunen’s glove at first base, sailing high and allowing two runs to score.
“The way we came back and were able to jump ahead after being down 9-1 was a credit to the way we were playing,” coach Takkunen said. “DL just kept putting the ball in play, though, and kept making us make plays. Some of them we were making, some of them we didn’t there.”
The Jacks reached the championship series after winning a 4-1 game against No. 1 seed Sartell-St. Stephen earlier in the day.
Hanson made the win possible by allowing just one run on four hits over a complete game, which stood at 1-1 from the second inning through the sixth. But Katie Alto scored on a suicide squeeze from Emma Stanoch for the go-ahead run.
Morgan and Stanoch came around on a sacrifice fly and a wild pitch, respectively, for the 4-1 advantage. And Hanson finished it out, retiring the tying run at the plate with a game-ending pop-up.
“She was gutting it out,” coach Takkunen said. “There’s no doubt about it.”
Between the two games, Hanson pitched 12 1/3 innings and allowed three earned runs on 12 hits.
Detroit Lakes advances to its first-ever state tournament in walk-off fashion, a spot Bemidji found itself in a year ago. It’s a different feeling for the Jacks this time around.
“It was a great battle by both teams, really,” coach Takkunen said. “The bottom line is that you just have to keep competing and try to do the best you can. That’s all you can hang your hat on.”
The Lumberjacks finish 16-9 on the season and graduate five seniors in Maggie Marcotte, Savannah Bakke, Kenzie Christiansen, Gabbi Takkunen and Morgan.
No. 2 Bemidji 4, No. 1 Sartell-St. Stephen 1
BHS 010 000 3 -- 4-7-2
SSS 010 000 0 -- 1-4-0
WP: Hanson (CG, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K)
LP: Trobec (CG, 7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 7 K)
No. 3 Detroit Lakes 13, No. 2 Bemidji 12
BHS 103 107 0 -- 12-11-3
DL 450 000 4 -- 13-17-6
WP: Kirchner (CG, 7 IP, 11 H, 12 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 6 K)
LP: Hanson (5.1 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K)