Softball: Errors cost Menahga at state Class A tournament
The Braves allowed 12 unearned runs in losses to Nicollet and Red Lake Falls.
MANKATO – Nerves of playing in their first state Class A tournament played a key factor for the members of the Menahga fastpitch softball team.
The Braves committed 11 errors that led to 12 unearned runs and managed only nine hits in a 10-0 five-inning loss to Nicollet in the quarterfinals and an 11-1 five-inning loss to Red Lake Falls in the consolation semifinals at Caswell Park on Thursday, June 9.
Hayley Selby allowed only three hits and struck out 10 and Nicollet took advantage of six errors to win the opener via the 10-run rule.
Without starting shortstop Anna Pietila, Menahga had to switch its lineup by moving Leah Weaver from third base to shortstop, Aili Anderson from catcher to third base, Journie Schoon from right field to catcher while starting Elyse Torola in right field. The other starters – Joie Koll at pitcher, Michaela Skoog at first base, Erica Johnson at second base, Molly Hendrickson in left field and Janelle Hendrickson in center field – remained the same.
“Our girls definitely looked scared down there. We had to switch up the field a bit as we lost a starter due to a previous obligation. In the first game, it showed that our girls were not in their usual spots by making some mental mistakes,” said Menahga head coach Coach Lindsay Aho. “Before the game, we told the girls that although they all weren’t playing where they played all season, they needed just to have fun and make the easy plays. Our biggest thing was trying to get them to get comfortable and just play softball.”
Nicollet, the No. 1 seed in the tournament, used an error to score two runs in the first inning and another error to score a run in the second before adding another run in the third for a 4-0 lead. Nicollet sealed the win by scoring three runs in both the fourth and fifth frames as the Braves committed two errors in both innings.
Molly Hendrickson’s single in the first, Koll’s single in the fourth and Schoon’s single in the fifth accounted for Menahga’s three hits. Koll allowed four earned runs on six hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings.
Nicollet improved to 22-2.
Red Lake Falls, the No. 4 seed which lost to Edgerton-Southwest Minnesota Christian 3-1 in the quarterfinals, combined 10 hits with five Menahga errors to advance to the consolation championship game.
Two errors and a two-run home run by Gabby Casavan gave Red Lake Falls a 5-0 lead in the first inning before Menahga countered in the second on a double by Skoog and Anderson’s RBI single to make it 5-1. Pietila followed with a single, but the Braves left two runners on base.
Two more Menahga errors led to four more Red Lake Falls runs in the second as the lead expanded to 9-1. The Braves mounted a threat in the third when Molly Hendrickson doubled and Koll singled to lead off the inning, but Menahga couldn’t capitalize on those hits.
Another error made it 10-1 in the fourth as Red Lake Falls left the bases loaded. Casavan’s solo homer leading off the fifth ended this game early via the 10-run rule.
Koll’s single in the fifth was the only other hit for the Braves.
Menahga put the ball in play all game as Casavan only struck out one in a complete-game effort as Red Lake Falls improved to 25-2. Koll allowed five earned runs with three walks and one strikeout.
“Although it didn’t show score wise, the girls played much better offensively in the second game,” said Aho. “We were hitting the ball and making Red Lake Falls play defense, which they did well. It was good to see the bats get hot down there.”
Menahga (which also qualified for the state tournament in 1998, 2004, 2007 and 2010) ended the season with a 16-11 record.
In the other quarterfinal games, No. 2 Moose Lake-Willow River defeated Wabasha-Kellogg 8-0 and No. 3 Randolph defeated Upsala 5-1. Moose Lake edged Randolph 3-2 and Nicollet defeated Edgerton 4-1 in the semifinals with Nicollet topping Moose Lake 3-2 in the championship game. Randolph defeated Edgerton 6-3 for third place and Red Lake Falls defeated Wabasha-Kellogg 9-4 for fifth place. Wabasha-Kellogg advanced to the consolation final with a 5-1 win over Upsala.
“Going down to Mankato was an unreal experience for the girls,” said Aho. “They got to see what the best teams in the state play like and have something to motivate them to work hard in order to compete with those teams.”