By Bruce Karnick [email protected] The #5 Raiders did not start the Section 3AAAA tournament the way they wanted too. Hastings lost to Park in the opening game on Tuesday the first by a score of …
By Bruce Karnick
The #5 Raiders did not start the Section 3AAAA tournament the way they wanted too. Hastings lost to Park in the opening game on Tuesday the first by a score of 8-5. It was a hardfought game, but Park came out on top. The loss put the Raiders in the consolation bracket of the double elimination tournament. That means, one more loss and the season is over.
Thursday, the Raiders played host to #8 Apple Valley. Hastings jumped out to an early one run lead in the second and never looked back. They added three more runs in both the fourth and fifth innings and two in the sixth to have a 9-0 lead headed into the seventh. Apple Valley rallied to score four in the top of the seventh, but that was the closest they could get.
Friday, in their last home game of the season, Hastings was hosting Eagan in the heat of the day. Breaking journalism rules for the last story of the year on these awesome ladies, I had a surprise for them, I showed up to announce, and play walk-up songs and music between innings. That was my little way to say thank you for being such a wonderful group of kids, maybe help give them a little extra motivation, and a way to celebrate their last home game of the year. They had been asking me to do so all season, and I was honored to do so for them.
Friday’s game was electric. The atmosphere created with music and announcing completely changes the feel in the dugout. Of course, the girls have a blast doing what they love, but give them a little extra fun and they get loud. Eagan jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first, then by the middle of the third, that lead was 4-0. Hastings never gave up and the ladies lifted each other up, reminding each other they had plenty of game left to earn the win.
The bottom of the third, Hastings scored two, then turned around and shut down a scoring attempt when Eagan had a runner reach third on a single, the runner at first tried to draw the attention of the defender to allow the runner at third to score. Hastings played it perfectly, gaining the out and not allowing the run.
“Generally, we were sticking with our game plan at the plate. Always making sure that we’re picking good pitches to hit something that we can drive instead of things that were popping up, we had a little bit of challenge there but like we came through in third, it was. But key plays on defense to be able to stop them from running the bases and kind of put the put the hold there so that was that was the turnaround point for us,” Head Coach Jen Thesing said after the game.
The defensive stop was huge for the Raiders Thesing explained further. “It definitely gives us confidence, you know, the girls we practice that and stuff so that the girls know on defense, what to do, and they know on offense wants to do so. It was key for them to be able to score and put it to play and make it work.”
The bottom of the fourth was huge for Hastings. Olivia Mattson hit a Triple to start the inning. After reaching third, one of the girls yelled out ‘I told you! It’s the walk-up song!’ drawing laughs and cheers from her teammates. That triple started a four-run inning for Hastings giving them the lead for good.
With the weather being hot, the question was, would Haley Hoff continue to carry the load on the mound for Hastings?
“I mean we’re always prepared in case anything goes wrong, so we have both our pitchers warming up, just in case but Haley is really good about communicating with me and making sure that we’re on the same page so I know how long to let her go,” Thesing said as she smiled, knowing how the two have learned to communicate much better from the start of the season.
Hasting went on to win 6-4, eliminating Eagan and earning a rematch against Park of Cottage Grove on Monday evening in Richfield.
Monday was set to be a hot one like Friday, this time, the home field advantage is eliminated because both teams are playing at a neutral site. Park, being the higher seed, earned the home spot on the scoreboard.
Park held a 4-0 lead heading into the top of the fifth, Hastings earned one back, then another but then Park took those two back in the bottom of the sixth. With the score 6-2, could Hastings make the comeback in the top of the seventh? Sadly, no, the final score from Richfield, Park of Cottage Grove 6, Hastings 2. Ending the season for the Raiders and finalizing their record at 12-8.
With the season being over, it would be rude to not thank Head Coach Thesing and Assistant Coach Chad Feikema for their help this season with stats and conversation around the team. Of course, the wonderful kids that play for being, well, awesome. The best part of covering Raider sports is not the wins and losses, it’s the kids. Plain and simple, so thank you ladies for everything.
Assistant Coach Chad Feikema addresses the team after a huge come from behind win over Eagan at HHS on Friday. Photo by Bruce Karnick