A dominant pitching performance from Emma Eickhoff and a monstrous home run from Kurstyn Patnode helped propel the Becker Bulldog girls softball team to its first ever state title Wednesday afternoon with a 4-0 win over Winona.
Eickhoff was amazing in the circle, as she picked up the shutout win and struck out at least one Winhawk batter in every inning but the second.
Patnode’s huge 3 run home run in the top of the 7th inning provided insurance runs that the Bulldogs would end up not needing as they left no doubt as to who the best team in Class AAA was this year.
Becker had a pair of hits in the first inning and a total of three baserunners before Winona recorded the third out on a close play at the plate. It stayed even until the top of the third, when Becker’s Ellie Gallus reached base on a bunt play. Maddie Sherman then lined a pitch to right field and Gallus scampered to third base, narrowly beating the throw. Sherman tried to advance to second on the play, but was caught in a run down which allowed Gallus to head for home and beat the throw with a great slide.
It turned out to be the only run the Bulldogs would need, as Eickhoff settled into a rhythm and was aided by a couple of defensive gems from Cadence Koste and Patnode.
The score remained 1-0 until the top of the 7th, when the Bulldogs put together a two out rally. Gallus again had a big bunt single, which was followed by another hit from Sherman. Patnode then dug in for a great at-bat, going down 0-2 in the count before fouling off several pitches. Then came the big blast, a no-doubter that sailed over the fence and gave Eickoff and the Bulldogs a bit of breathing room.
Winona led off the 7th with a single, but Eickoff sent the next three batters down in order, including a pair of strikeouts to end the game and secure another championship trophy for Becker High School.
Look for additional game details, including comments from the coaches and players, in next week’s Patriot.