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SOFTBALL: Short notice: Quinn fills in at shortstop as Bemidji secures split

Bemidji High School senior Makenna Quinn (4) tags Duluth East’s Amanda Christenson out at second in the first game Tuesday at the BHS softball field. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)1 / 2
Bemidji High School junior Kenzie Christiansen (5) makes a basket catch in the first inning of game one against Duluth East Tuesday at the BHS softball field. (Jillian Gandsey | Bemidji Pioneer)2 / 2

BEMIDJI -- With Evette Morgan out of the lineup due to injury, the Bemidji High School softball team needed a shortstop on Tuesday.

In stepped Makenna Quinn.

“I’ve played short before,” Quinn said. “... It is a little bit more of a pressure spot just because more people hit to that side of the field. But I think it’s really fun playing short because you get a lot of action.”

The senior -- normally a second baseman -- took over at short during the Lumberjacks’ doubleheader split with Duluth East at the BHS softball field, and she found herself in the middle of the finale’s most pivotal play.

With two Greyhound runs already in, two runners on the corners and a no-out rally still threatening to slim Bemidji’s 7-4 lead in the sixth, Duluth East tried a third consecutive double steal. The first two times, Quinn cut off the throw from catcher Emma Stanoch to ensure the runner on third didn’t score. But the third time, Quinn tagged the would-be base stealer out, and then fired back to Stanoch to double up the other runner trying to swipe home.

“I had a feeling that she would probably steal just because a runner was on third and it’s just a normal thing,” Quinn said. “It was super cool to get that runner -- Emma had a really awesome throw on that. And I saw that runner at third going home, and she wasn’t sprinting, so I threw it to home. That was actually pretty cool.”

The 2-6-2 double play eased the pressure and led to the Jacks’ 10-4 win, which salvaged a split following a 9-6 loss in the opener.

“We were just a step behind in that first game,” BHS head coach Brad Takkunen said. “You’ve got to credit East, they put the pressure on us and made us make those mistakes. But we were just kind of sloppy… I’m very pleased with the way we came back (in game two) and competed.”

Bemidji (11-6) surrendered four runs in the top of the first of game one and then saw the Greyhounds (4-11) build a 7-0 lead after four. The Lumberjacks never recovered in time to avoid being tagged with the 9-4 loss.

In game two, though, the bats came alive to complement a sharper defense and a better mental approach.

“That’s what we all preach. Just compete,” Takkunen said. “Give yourself a chance to be in the game, and make the plays that you can make.”

BHS erased a 2-0 deficit with three runs in the third, two scoring on a Maddie Hanson single. They added to it when four straight singles started the fifth, and all four came in to score for a 7-2 game.

The next inning, though, Duluth East threatened to ruin the turnaround before the double-play dramatics swung momentum back to the Jacks.

“I kind of figured they were going to send her, so I figured we were going to get one out,” Takkunen said. “But I was surprised to get the second out. I was willing to give up the run just to get the pressure off of us with the bases the way they were. But it worked out really well.”

Quinn made sure she was ready for the moment.

“Before every single pitch, I always tell myself that the ball is coming to me. I try to mentally prepare myself because it is a mental thing and I have to be on,” she said. “(My approach) makes it a little easier to field it and throw it, instead of having my nerves up and being tense about it… It kind of felt like (that play) sealed the deal.”

“(Quinn) kept her nose to the grindstone, so to speak, today and made some nice plays,” Takkunen said. “There were a couple tough plays that she was steady on. She did a nice job.”

Hanson struck out the next batter to end the sixth, and after Bemidji piled on three more runs in the bottom half, Hanson shut down the Greyhounds for the 10-4 win and doubleheader split.

The Lumberjacks will return to action at 4 p.m. today for a road meeting with International Falls. And because they found a way to escape on Tuesday, they’ll carry a little momentum with them.

“Today I got a lot more comfortable with playing short,” Quinn said. “... I was really proud of everybody, how they stepped up.”

Duluth East 9, Bemidji 6 (Game One)

DE 400 320 0 -- 9-11-4

BHS 000 312 0 -- 6-7-3

WP: Weiland

LP: G. Takkunen

Bemidji 10, Duluth East 4 (Game Two)

DE 020 002 0 -- 4-11-1

BHS 003 043 X -- 10-12-2

WP: Hanson

LP: Pfingsten

Micah Friez

Micah Friez covers Bemidji State basketball and BSU for the Bemidji Pioneer. A native of East Grand Forks, Minn., he is a 2018 graduate of Bemidji State with a degree in Creative and Professional Writing. Follow him on Twitter at @micahfriez for Beaver basketball updates.

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