MARSHALL, Minn. – Despite totaling more hits and fewer errors than its opponents in the first round of the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Tournament, the Bemidji State University softball team suffered consecutive one-run setbacks. The Beavers lost 7-6 to Winona State in the opening round, then a 1-0 pitcher’s duel to Wayne State in the elimination round.
BSU battled from a 6-2 deficit against Winona State to tie the score in the fourth inning, but Winona State countered with the eventual game-winning run in the bottom half of the inning. Bridget Smith (So., INF, Burnsville, Minn.) led the offense for BSU, going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored, while Jamie Docken (Jr., OF, Owatonna, Minn.) was 1-for-3 with two runs batted in.
The 2-6 hitters in the WSU lineup did most of the damage, collecting seven of the team’s eight total hits, four of the six team RBI, and all seven of the Warrior runs scored.
Each team’s offense came flying out of the gates with BSU punching out two runs in the top of the first before Winona State answered with four runs in the bottom half of the opening frame.
For Bemidji State, Ashley Leopold (Fr., INF, Afton, Minn.) drew a one-out walk and Smith followed with a double to put runners on second and third for Docken, BSU’s RBI leader. Docken roped a single up the middle and the speedy Smith was able to score from second base for a quick 2-0 lead.
But, with one out in the WSU half of the inning, the Warriors sandwiched four singles around a walk to post four runs and take back the early lead before BSU starter Kristen Paine (Jr., P, Chisholm, Minn.) hurled an inning-ending strikeout. Winona State then added two more runs in the third inning off of Paine.
Bemidji State went scoreless in the second and third, but took advantage of three fourth-inning errors by the Warrior defense. Katie Prettyman highlighted the inning with an RBI triple, which she scored on after an errant throw by the Winona State shortstop.
In the bottom of the fourth, Winona State followed up a triple by Amanda Wilhelm with an RBI single by Terra Halron for the game’s deciding run.
BSU’s Paine pitched to one batter in the sixth before giving way to Lindsey Imhof (Sr., P, Littlefork, Minn.). Paine pitched five complete innings, allowing seven runs (six earned) on eight hits, while striking out one and walking three. Imhof pitched a perfect sixth in the relief, setting down all three batters she faced.
Against Wayne State in the elimination round, BSU right-hander Ali Willard turned in a spectacular pitching performance only to be outdueled by the Wildcats’ Karen Hain in a 1-0 BSU loss.
The Beavers put together a threat against Hain in the first inning, loading the bases with three consecutive, two-out singles by Smith, Mara Johnson (So., INF, Bemidji, Minn.), and Docken. But, Hain avoided disaster getting Amy Klaers (So., INF, Elk River, Minn.) to strike out swinging to end the threat. Hain went on to give up just two more hits in the complete-game effort with one each to Klaers and Brittany Bolstad (Fr., OF, International Falls, Minn.).
On the other side of the ball, Willard was almost equally as effective giving up just two hits in the game. But, Wayne State pieced together the game’s only run in the second inning after Breann Parks drew a walk and moved into scoring position on a passed ball. Kiley Peterson provided the clutch RBI with a single up the middle to score Parks from second.
Willard (7-10) shut down the Wildcat offense from the third inning on, ending with a complete game effort in which she allowed just one run, on two hits, while striking out two and walking one.
The loss to Wayne State eliminates the Beavers from the NSIC tournament and will conclude the season with a 10-28 record, including a 4-14 mark in the NSIC.
Extra Bases: BSU totaled more hits (11) than its opponents (10) in the NSIC tournament... BSU also committed fewer errors (2) than its opponents (4).... In the BSU-WSC game neither team had an extra base hits (seven total singles).... Smith led the BSU offense on the day, going a combined 3-for-7 with a double and a run scored.