Softball: Wingers hand Northfield a final Missota loss
For the last time, Northfield and Red Wing met as Missota Conference rivals. And fitting of a send-off, the two teams brought fireworks to the field.
By the time the smoke cleared, the Wingers were left standing as 17-12 winners, taking the season sweep of the Raiders in the process.
The two teams combined for 31 hits and 10 errors, and eight of Red Wing’s nine starters scored a run.
Northfield struck first, with three runs in the top of the first inning, and another in the second. Red Wing responded with a pair of runs in both the first and second to tie the game 4-4. Then the Wingers’ bats truly came alive with a four-run third that was punctuated by Hannah Walch’s two-RBI triple.
The Raiders looked down, but they were not out, scoring four of their own in the fifth.
“I give them a lot of credit,” said Red Wing head coach Jon Bombach. “We jumped out and tightened up a little bit after giving up some errors and some runs in the first couple innings. I thought, ‘Here we are.’ And I think they thought, ‘Here we go.’ But give them credit, they came back and hit the ball and we gave them some runs again and made this a game that we should have taken care of sooner.”
The Wingers could have hung their heads with every costly error. Instead, Red Wing continued to battle, chasing Northfield starter Sierra Barck with two outs in the fifth. The Wingers scored just once in that inning, but came back in the sixth to put up a half-dozen runs to put the game away.
It was a solid-if-sometimes-sloppy performance that still carried some weight after falling twice to Chaska on Thursday by scores of 11-0 and 29-0.
“The end of the season has taken its toll,” Bohmbach said of Thursday’s losses. “We just don’t have the numbers against some of these teams, the upper echelon, to compete consistently with pitching … We had to take one on the chin (Thursday) night, but, big picture, Chaska’s not in our section. (Northfield) is a section game. We don’t have goals on winning the conference. We have one goal every year, and that’s to make the state tournament, besides improving. And they believe in it.”
Red Wing (7-11) should believe something as the Wingers have improved immensely over last year, and the hitting seems as though it could make up for some fielding mistakes. Hailey Kuhl and Maria Furlong each had three hits on Friday with Kuhl scoring four runs and Furlong adding three RBI and two runs. Hailee Johnson had two hits and three RBI, and Emily Boxrud had a hit and two runs scored.
Mary Bender and Rebecca Swenning each had a base hit and a run scored while Walch put up a line of 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBI.
Boxrud pitched six innings after taking Thursday off, allowing 14 hits but striking out five compared to just one walk. Walch got the final three outs of the game, giving up two hits and three unearned runs in the process.
Northfield’s Erin Holman hit an inside-the-park grand slam in the fifth inning. Barck took the loss after allowing 11 runs on eight hits and four walks to go with two strikeouts.
The Wingers will have to wait until Sunday to learn who, where and when they will open the Section 1AAA tournament.