May 1, 2013
Duluth News Tribune
Prep softball finally springs into outdoor action
By Rick Weegman
The adult mayfly has the shortest lifespan in the animal kingdom, lasting anywhere from a few minutes to a day.
This year’s Minnesota high school softball season might be a close second.
After a spring that has seen more snow than sunshine, Duluth Denfeld and Hermantown finally squeezed in a Lake Superior Conference game Tuesday at Wade Field. Just three weeks before playoffs are set to begin, it marked the first time the teams played a game in the Northland.
Aided by three consecutive singles and a pair of errors, Denfeld rallied from three runs down in the bottom of the seventh inning to win 4-3.
“We just happened to hit when we had to hit,” Denfeld coach Dick Swanson said. “And at the end, we hit some bunts and they mishandled them.”
Hawks senior Katie Thun mowed down the Hunters (3-0) for six innings, striking out 11 and allowing just one hit. But Melissa Jarvi opened the seventh with an infield single, barely beating out the throw to first base.
“I thought I was going to be out, but I just ran it out,” the senior shortstop said. “When the ump called safe, it was a good feeling.”
McKenzie Klaas and Alexia Klaas, each of whom had struck out their previous two at-bats, followed with singles to bring home one run and Ashley Boone reached on a throwing error to cut the deficit to 3-2. Ashley Taipale, who also had whiffed in her two previous plate appearances, laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt to score Alexia Klaas with the tying run. Mikayla Haynes’ bunt attempt was dropped at first base as pinch-runner Crystal McClarey crossed home plate with the winning run.
“This will pump us up, especially winning against one of our biggest rivals,” Jarvi said.
Hermantown coach Tom Bang didn’t blame the final-inning misplays for his team’s first loss.
“The game was lost on not driving in runs earlier in the game; we had a lot of chances to drive in runs,” he said.
Hermantown (3-1) scored all its runs in the second inning, two on Jillayne Gilbert’s double, but squandered opportunities to score more in the following inning. Macy Francisco led off with a single and appeared ready to score on Mackenzie Herzig’s double. But the ball rolled under the temporary outfield fence for a ground-rule double, sending Francisco back to third. She subsequently was thrown out at home after Hayley Wargin’s third strike got away from catcher Alexia Klaas, who threw Wargin out at first and then tagged out Francisco on the return throw.
“It happens all the time that that temporary fence kills you,” Bang said. “We were going to score a run there and the inning was going to be wide-open.”
At least this snow fence didn’t have any snow piled up by it as had been the case for most of April. And with rain forecast for the area and, possibly, a half-foot of snow for the Twin Cities — where Denfeld and Hermantown are scheduled to play tournaments this weekend — it might be one of the few times they play outdoors in the regular season.
“Just getting on dirt is nice,” Swanson said. “We played two games on dirt (Monday), other than that we’ve only been on the football field.”
It’s been the kind of spring only a mayfly could enjoy.
Denfeld opened its season with a 3-0 win at St. Francis and a 4-1 victory over Irondale on Monday. Sarah Hendrickson tossed a three-hitter and struck out five against the Saints, Alexia Klaas drove in two runs with a first-inning double and Boone doubled in Klaas in the fourth. Taipale threw a four-hitter against Irondale, with Boone and Jarvi producing two-out RBI singles and Ciarra Taipale driving in two with a two-out double.
Duluth Denfeld 4, Hermantown 3
At Wade Field. WP: Sarah Hendrickson 7IP, 8H, 3ER 4K, 1BB. LP: Katie Thun 6.2IP, 4H, 11K, 0BB. DD: scored 4 runs in bottom of 7th; Alexia Klaas 1RBI; Ashley Taipale 1RBI. H: Mackenzie Herzig 2H (2B); Ashley Irwin 2H, 1RBI; Jillayne Gilbert 2-RBI 2B.
Monday’s Late Results
Duluth Denfeld 3, St. Francis 0
At St Francis, Minn. WP: Sarah Hendrickson 7IP, 3H, 5K. LP: Caitlin Lubin 5IP, 3ER, 4H, 5K, 1BB. SF: Abby Morrow 2x3 (2B). DD: Alexia Klaas 2x2 (2B), 2RBIs, 1R; Ashley Boone 2B, 1RBI.
Duluth Denfeld 4, Irondale 1
At Irondale. WP: Ashley Taipale 7IP, 1ER, 4H, 8K, 3BB. LP: Maggie Schley 7IP, 4ER, 6H, 1BB. I: Veronica Wold 2x4 (2-2B); Maggie Schley 1RBI. DD: Ciarra Taipale 2RBIs; Ashley Boone 1RBI; Mel Jarvi 1RBI; Mikayla Haynes 2B, 1R; McKenzie Klaas 1R.