BEMIDJI -- Up against one of the state’s hottest teams, the Bemidji High School softball team held its own in a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots-type doubleheader on Tuesday.

Sartell-St. Stephen ultimately landed the knockout punch, though, delivering wins by 14-8 and 10-6 margins at the BHS softball field.

“They beat us strictly on some lapses defensively,” head coach Brad Takkunen said. “All in all, I’m very happy with the way we were swinging the bat, putting the ball in play, continuing to score runs and put the pressure on them. We just need to keep focusing on a couple of things defensively.”

In game one, the Lumberjack bats made a statement early on. The Sabres (8-0) had outscored opponents 104-1 coming into the day, but Bemidji (1-6) produced eight runs within the first two innings.

Sartell-St. Stephen scored three in the first and five in the second, but BHS came back to tie in the bottom half of each frame.

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Hannah Alexander highlighted the first rally with a two-RBI double to tie things up at 3-3.

Bemidji sophomore Elizabeth Oster (10) gets a high-five from Lexie Tatro (11) after scoring in the first inning against Sartell-St. Stephen on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, at the BHS softball field. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)
Bemidji sophomore Elizabeth Oster (10) gets a high-five from Lexie Tatro (11) after scoring in the first inning against Sartell-St. Stephen on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, at the BHS softball field. (Jillian Gandsey / Bemidji Pioneer)

Back-to-back strikeouts started the bottom of the second inning, but a walk and five straight hits soon followed. Elizabeth Oster, Alexander and Isabelle Neadeau all cracked run-scoring doubles that eventually added up to an 8-all tie.

“This team has made tremendous strides,” said Takkunen. “There’s a lot more confidence with some people, particularly the younger kids. We just need to keep getting good at-bats, and hopefully some good things will happen.”

The Sabres had the final say, however. Ava Williams hit a go-ahead solo home run in the third, and Rainna Stangle added a huge two-run blast in the fifth. Stangle’s shot was the start of five insurance runs over the final three frames, as the BHS bats went quiet late in the ultimate 14-8 loss.

Game two featured a tit-for-tat opening, as well. As the road team, Bemidji scored two in the first inning when Tatro knocked an RBI single and later came across on a wild pitch.

The Sabres then leveled the score at 2-2 in the bottom of the first and tallied a loud four runs in the fourth. Stangle yanked a booming two-run homer down the right-field line for a 6-2 lead.

Both Jody Pemberton and Macey Gish scored on errors to start the fifth inning, and then Alexander ripped an RBI double to the gap to cut the deficit to 6-5. That made way for a 6-6 tie when Tatro doubled in Pemberton in the sixth to complete another rally.

“I’m very proud of the way we’re competing,” Takkunen said. “We’ve made a lot of growth, and I’m hopeful we can continue to do that.”

In the bottom of the sixth, Delaney Capretz plated two runs for Sartell-St. Stephen on a two-out infield blooper that Pemberton couldn’t quite race down. Two more runs came across for a 10-6 score before the game was called after six complete innings due to darkness.

“We’re close. We just need a couple of nice plays,” Takkunen said. “The one Jody dove at, (if) she makes the catch, that’s the end of the inning. Great pitch by Lexie, right off the end of the bat, and the ball just kind of blooped right in a spot where no one is. And you can’t do much about that.”

Taylor Waukazo took the loss in game one, throwing six innings and allowing 14 runs off 13 hits and nine walks. In game two, Tatro was issued the loss with a line of 10 runs (three earned) off 11 hits over six innings.

Bemidji will next take on Brainerd with a 4 p.m. contest on Friday, April 30, at the BHS softball field.

“Where we were to where we are, that’s what I keep looking at,” Takkunen said of the team’s growth. “Obviously we want the score to go in our favor. I can identify the (bad) things that are happening. Hopefully we can change that, get a little more solid confidence.”



Sartell-St. Stephen 14, Bemidji 8

SSS 351 032 0 -- 14-13-3

BHS 350 000 0 -- 8-10-2

WP: Dougherty (CG, 7 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 4 BB, 7 K)

LP: Waukazo (6 IP, 13 H, 14 R, 13 ER, 9 BB, 3 K)



Sartell-St. Stephen 10, Bemidji 6 (six innings)

BHS 200 031 -- 6-5-3

SSS 200 404 -- 10-11-3

WP: Sarff (CG, 6 IP, 5 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 13 K)

LP: Tatro (CG, 6 IP, 11 H, 10 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 3 K)