One season after losing to East Grand Forks 23-0 in four innings, the Crookston Pirate softball team forced a complete seven-inning game while bringing the tying run to the plate before falling 9-5 to the Green Wave in a Section 8AA game played on the turf of the East Grand Forks High School Football Field.
After the Pirates were retired in order in the top of the first inning, the Green Wave took the lead in the bottom half of the opening frame. Following a lead-off groundout back to pitcher Jasmin Hanson, East Grand Forks’ Macy Skyberg hit a single into right field where the ball was bobbled allowing Skyberg to advance to second base with one out in the inning. Ellie McDonald hit a single during the next at-bat plating Skyberg from second base giving the Green Wave a 1-0 lead. After McDonald stole second base, Hanson earned her first strikeout followed by a pop-up out to first base retiring the side with EGF leading 1-0 after one inning.
Kasey Cwikla walked in the top of the second inning providing Crookston its first base runner of the game but was stranded at first base to end the inning. In the bottom of the second inning, Ella Eggers opened the frame with a walk before advancing to second base on a ground out. Lucia Sands doubled to right center field scoring Eggers and pushing the Green Wave forward 2-0. Following a ground out, Brooke Boman reached on a dropped fly ball hit to center field scoring Sands before a Macy Skyberg single plated Boman boosting East Grand Forks’ lead to 4-0 after two innings.
Crookston went down in order in the top of the third before McKenna Aitchison led off the bottom half of the inning with a triple, before coming home to score after an errant throw by Crookston’s catcher once Aitchison was caught in a rundown back to third base from home plate. Hanson bounced back from her team’s defensive miscue with her second strikeout of the day followed by a ground out keeping the Pirates within 5-0 after three innings. Crookston began to cut into their deficit in the top of the fourth inning. Emma Boll started the rally with a walk before Jasmin Hanson hit a single for the Pirates first hit of the game putting runners on first and second base with no outs. After a strikeout, Brylee Lessard singled to right field scoring Boll and cutting the Pirates deficit down to 5-1 heading into the bottom of the fourth inning. “It was obviously pretty short notice for Brylee (Lessard),” said Crookston head coach Robbe Nessler after Lessard entered the lineup following an injury to one of her teammates. “She stepped in, and she had just learned that she was coming in not too long after that because Allie (Love) ended up having a little bit of an injury issue. Once we got some girls on base, Brylee was able to come through and bring somebody in for us.”
Lucia Sands led off the bottom of the fourth with a double before Ella Hlucny hit a single scoring Sands and putting East Grand Forks ahead 6-1. Brooke Boman reached on an errant throw by Crookston’s shortstop that allowed Hlucny to score and Boman to advance to second base as EGF’s lead grew to 7-1. A second straight error at shortstop allowed the Green Wave’s eighth run to score before Ellie McDonald drove a sacrifice fly into right field pushing the host’s lead to 9-1 after four innings.
Following a groundout to start the fifth inning, Maddie Salentine reached on an error before stealing second base. With a runner in scoring position, Emma Boll sent a single into shallow left-center field scoring Salentine and trimming the Pirates’ deficit down to 9-2. Jasmin Hanson came to the plate next and blasted a two-run home run over the center field fence bringing the Pirates within 9-4 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning. “The funny thing was she hit it well, and I knew these were relatively short fences here with their improvised field that they’ve got,” said Nessler. “She hit it well, and it bounced off the top of the fence, so I knew it was a home run and I saw the umpires signal, but Jasmin did not see that so she was just sprinting dead-out all around the bases. That was great to see, Jasmin was throwing very well for us from the circle and then she steps in and hits one out as well. You can’t ask for more than that from a player.” Jasmin Hanson made quick work of East Grand Forks in the bottom of the fifth, but Crookston was retired in order in the top of the sixth inning leaving the Pirates down 9-4 heading into the seventh and final inning. After the final inning began with a ground out, Salentine reached on an error before an Emma Boll walk put runners on first and second base. Jasmin Hanson again delivered at the plate sending a single to right field allowing Salentine to score while shrinking Crookston’s deficit down to 9-5. “That’s a couple of our captains there, so we do expect them to be strong, contributing players for us. Both (Hanson and Salentine) had good games for us.” With runners at first and second base, Jenna Coauette hit a single to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate with one out in the inning. East Grand Forks’ pitcher Ella Eggers hunkered down in the circle getting a strikeout and a groundout to end the game as the Green Wave hung on for a 9-5 win. “It’s a big confidence boost,” summarized Nessler. “In sports, you know everyone says you don’t want to take too much from a moral victory like that, but for us coming from where we were a year ago, playing a seven-inning game when did not have many of those a year ago is a big deal. We had at least three or four innings where we were pretty much one-two-three in the inning so those are all pretty big confidence boosters for us and that’s what we need at this point to get these girl’s to where they know they can compete game in and game out.”
Despite the loss, Jasmin Hanson looked comfortable in the circle throughout the game, consistently hitting the strike zone while allowing just two earned runs and issuing only one walk which pleased her head coach, “Jasmin threw a great game today. She was definitely on girls. For the most part, we did a pretty good job having her back out there defensively, which has been a point of emphasis for us, so all around I was much happier with our effort as a team today.”
The Pirates fall to 0-2 and return to the diamond on Monday when Crookston hosts Bagley at 4:30 p.m. with the Riverview Health pregame show beginning at 4 p.m. on KROX. East Grand Forks improves to 1-2.
|Jasmin Hanson- Crox||6.0||9||9||2||1||2|
|Ella Eggers – EGF||7.0||6||5||3||5||6|
Jasmin Hanson 3-4, home run, 3 rbi
Emma Boll 1-2, 2 runs, rbi
Brylee Lessard 1-3, rbi
For East Grand Forks
Lucia Sands 3-3, 3 doubles, 2 runs
McKenna Aitchison 2-3, triple, rbi
Macy Skyberg 2-4, 2 runs, rbi
Ellie McDonald 1-3, 2 rbi