Saturday, June 3rd, 2023 Church Directory

Bulldog softball hits stride as playoffs loom

The Becker girls softball team had a great final two weeks of the season, and appears to be peaking at the right time as the playoffs kicked off on Thursday.

Two weeks ago, they hosted Cambridge-Isanti on Senior Day and picked up a pair of wins, 8-3 and 6-0.

In game one, Jackie Neumann led the way with two hits, while Maddie Sherman and Jaimee Cook held the Bluejackets scoreless over the final 6 innings en route to the victory.

In the nightcap of the doubleheader, Hannah Bartlett and Nevaeh Gardner hit first inning doubles to plate two early runs, while Alexia Mostad nailed a single in the second inning as part of three runs scored.  Kurstyn Patnode added a solo home run in the seventh inning, and also picked up the shutout on the mound, giving up just one hit and striking out seven.

Last Monday, the team traveled to Monticello and won 4-0.  The game was a scoreless pitcher’s duel through five innings, but Becker finally broke through with four runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead. Evelyn Kreft had a big double to put Becker on the board, while Cook was great on the mound as she kept the Bulldogs’ scoreless streak alive with a shutout of her own. She gave up three hits and struck out nine and Kreft had two hits in the game.

The next day, Becker hosted Big Lake in a conference and section showdown and came away with a 5-0 win. Nevaeh Gardner hit a solo home run to lead off the second inning and Becker capitalized on a Hornet error to add three more runs in third. Patnode kept the good work going on the mound with her second straight shutout, giving up three hits and striking out eight Hornet batters.

Last Wednesday, Becker went to St. Francis for a battle at the top of the M8 and the game went 14 innings until Becker won 7-3.

The game was scoreless until the bottom of the fifth inning when a hit by pitch and a couple of Bulldog errors allowed the Saints to plate two runs and take the lead. Becker battled back in the top of the 6th when Hannah Bartlett led off with a walk and Nevaeh Gardner followed with a double.  A couple of Saints errors led to two runs and a tied game. The Saints pulled ahead with one run the next inning, but Patnode came up clutch in the seventh when she walked with one out, stole second base and scored on a Bartlett single to send the game to extra innings.  

Extra innings would bring a return to a pitchers duel and both teams were scoreless in innings 8-13 and the score stayed knotted at three. After a bloop single off the bat of Kreft, Norah Fitzpatrick launched a double to right center, putting runners on second and third. Neumann would follow with a ground ball to score pinch runner Keira Berger. Two batters later a dropped fly ball would allow two more runs to score and a Maddie Sherman single would plate a fourth run and give Becker the 7-3 lead. Cook would close things out with a scoreless bottom of the 14th to seal the win.

Patnode went five innings and allowed two unearned runs, while Cook picked up the win in relief as she went nine innings and allowed one unearned run. Bartlett, Kreft, and Fitzpatrick each had two hits on the day.

This week, the team wrapped up the regular season with a loss to Tartan.

Patnode was the hard luck losing pitcher, going all seven innings and allowing four unearned runs on six hits.  She struck out 11 Tartan batters and was also the offensive leader at the plate going three-for-four.

Becker finished its regular season with a record of 14-5, 10-4 in the Mississippi 8 Conference and good enough for second place.  They received the #1 seed and a first round bye in the Section 5AAA playoffs, taking on Monticello at 4:00 on Thursday (results next week). The section tournament will conclude with games in Elk River this Wednesday and Friday.