Weather Forecast


Softball: Bombers fly through first round of section play

Cannon Falls pitcher Lydia Franked throws home during the Bombers' 4-1 victory over Byron in the first round of the Section 1AAA playoffs Tuesday afternoon. Franked struck out 11 batters in the game. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)1 / 2
Cannon Falls first baseman Gabby Neckmann swings at a pitch during the Bombers' 4-1 victory over Byron in the first round of the Section 1AAA playoffs Tuesday afternoon. Neckmann singled and later scored. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)2 / 2

CANNON FALLS – With Kasson-Mantorville waiting on deck, Cannon Falls ripped right through Byron on Tuesday afternoon, ousting the Bears from the Section 1AA-West playoffs with a quick 4-1 home victory.

Bomber pitcher Lydia Franken struck out 11 batters in seven innings, allowing just two hits, one of which was a solo home run to Vanessa Anderson in the top of the sixth inning.

That was the lone ball that was hit hard, and the Cannon Falls defense gobbled up everything else.

“It was mostly the defense,” Franken said of her stellar evening. “We made the plays we had to, we got hits when we had to. It wasn’t too overpowering – last time we had two home runs off them – but it was just base hits, what we needed.”

Gabby Heckmann got the single-game started with an infield hit in the bottom of the second. Heckmann took second base on a passed ball a few pitches later, coming around to score on Sami Cromer’s sacrifice fly.

Taylor Eddy was hit by a pitch one spot ahead of Cromer, and she scored on Jordan Kasa’s infield single to give the Bombers a 2-0 lead after two.

Heckmann doubled in the third, a blast that two-hopped the left-center field fence. But Heckmann was stranded at second.

In the fifth, Tatum Pickar walked and was pushed to second on Ashly Seres’ sacrifice bunt. Becca Vandenheuvel then reached on an error which set up Franken’s RBI single back through the pitching circle. Heckmann blooped a ball into right field one batter later, giving Cannon Falls a 4-0 lead.

That set up Anderson’s blast, which Franken followed with three straight strikeouts.

The win sets up a rematch with the KoMets, which K-M won 6-0 on May 14. For the fourth-seeded Bombers to pull off the upset of the top-seeded and top-ranked KoMets, a better hitting display will be needed.

“A year ago we lost 1-0 to them, and we made them nervous even this year,” said Cannon Falls head coach Mike Gunderson. “We were down 1-0 in the fifth inning, and then they just have a way of scoring runs. We only put five balls in play last game. One was a base hit, but the other four were just dribblers.”

Added Franken, “We need to actually hit the ball this time. Like, a lot. (K-M’s Maddie Damon) is a good pitcher. I think we can take her. We’re ready for her.”

Wednesday’s game between the Bombers and the KoMets is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in Kasson, up from 5 p.m. when the game was originally scheduled. The winner will play Saturday, in Stewartville, at 4 p.m., while the loser will play in Stewartville at approximately 5:30 p.m. The tournament then switches to Todd Park in Austin for the final three games on May 27 and May 29.

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
(651) 301-7879