Denfeld News

May 26, 2012
Duluth News Tribune

Hunters cut down North Branch in prep softball playoffs
By Rick Weegman

Sarah Hendrickson has been pitching in big games since she was a lightweight eighth-grader at Duluth Central.

So when Hendrickson, now a junior at Duluth Denfeld, faced a bases-loaded, one-out situation with a 1-0 fifth-inning lead against North Branch on Friday, it wasn’t the first time she’s needed to get out of a jam.

A popup and a strikeout later and Hendrickson had done it again. Nikki Logergren’s RBI double and McKenzie Klaas’ three-run home run in the bottom of the sixth added insurance in the Hunters’ 5-0 win in a Section 7AAA quarterfinal at Wade Field.

“She’s like a bulldog and digs her teeth in,” Denfeld coach Dick Swanson said of the former Duluth Central standout. “When the bases are loaded, she finds a way to make things happen. She’s so high-spirited that she’s great to have on the team.”

Hendrickson scattered seven hits and struck out nine as Denfeld (16-3) advanced to the double-elimination section final four Wednesday at Forest Lake.

“She knows when to bear down and to hit her spots,” said right fielder Logergren, who shares mound duties with Hendrickson. “She’s very confident in herself, which makes the team very confident in her as well.”

The key moment came after Hannah Hubbard, Kallie Grote and Kaylee Lofboom hit back-to-back-to-back singles with one out in the fifth. Hendrickson then induced Emily Trunk to pop up and struck out Mikayla Carlson.

The Vikings (10-11) put a runner on third base in the following inning and attempted a squeeze bunt with two outs. Third baseman Mikayla Haynes fielded the ball and in one motion tossed it to catcher Kara Warren, who avoided being called for obstruction, to make the tag for the final out.

“Mikayla made a nice play; she saved my butt there,” Hendrickson said.

The Hunters made sure of matters in their final at-bat. Logergren, a senior who earlier this week was selected to play in the Minnesota Coaches Association All-Star Series, drove in Alexia Klaas with a double to left field and McKenzie Klaas hit a line drive over the center-field fence for the final three runs.

“Our coach said, ‘Anybody with a bat in their hands is dangerous,’ ” Logergren said. “By having those runs in, it took a lot of pressure off Sarah and off us in the field as well.”

Hendrickson struck out the first two batters in the seventh and ended the game on a forceout.

Now the Hunters turn their attention to a round that hasn’t been to their liking in recent years. They will kick off the final four against St. Francis, which they beat 5-0 during the regular season, and potentially could face second-ranked Forest Lake in the winner’s bracket final. The Rangers are 20-1, but only edged Hendrickson and the Hunters 1-0 at Wade during the regular season.

“I think this is the year,” Hendrickson said. “We lost 1-0 to Forest Lake, but it was a heck of a game. If we put our minds to it, bear down and focus and have that energy, we can do it.”

Logergren is hopeful the Hunters will have what it takes to reach the state tournament for the first time since the school’s debut in 1990.

“I’m praying to God this is the year,” she said. “We’ve come close every single year, so I’m hoping we can finally get past Forest Lake and the other teams, too. We’ll have a lot of confidence going in that we can beat anybody in the state.”

Duluth Denfeld 5, North Branch 0
At Wade Field. WP: Sarah Hendrickson 7IP, 7H, 0R, 9K, 0BB. LP: Katy Trunk 6IP, 5ER, 5H, 2K, 3BB. DD (16-3): Alexia Klaas 2x2, BB; Nikki Logergren 2B, 2RBIs; McKenzie Klaas 3RBI-HR in 6th. NB (10-11): loaded bases in 5th.

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