Softball tied for third in the conference


The Raiders had a busy three-day stretch last week facing three conference opponents back-to-back-to-back. The first game of the week was against the fifth-place So. St. Paul Packers on Tuesday. Wednesday brought a trip to conference-leader No. St. Paul before they wrapped up the stretch at home against the sixth-place Simley Spartans on Thursday.
The Packers jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning, but it did not take long for Hastings to bounce back and take the lead for good. Offensively for Hastings, the first inning was solid but did not produce any runs with six of the Raider’s hitters stepping up to the plate. In the second inning, that all changed with all nine players batting and the Raiders scoring four. Lilah Gessner walked with one out, and suddenly, the Raiders were in the head of the Packer’s pitcher. Both Lauren Muhl and Lauren Jenkins walked to load the bases for Hastings, then Sienna McCoy crushed the second pitch she saw up the middle to score Gessner and Muhl and move Jenkins to third. McCoy stole second and Hastings had two runners in scoring position once more.
Haley Strain walked to load the bases again and that brought Kylie Evans to the plate. Evans hit one right up the middle, scoring Jenkins and McCoy. Alyssa Leos was put in as a courtesy runner for Strain and she tried to stretch to third but was tagged out for the second out of the inning. Kaylee Hunt hit a single to right advancing Evans to second, giving the Raiders another threat, but that is where the rally ended, Hastings was up 4-1 after two full innings.
So. St. Paul tried to make things interesting adding one run in the top of the third, but Hastings shut them down quick and then answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the third. Addie Seleski hit a hard shot to second and the second baseman mishandled the ball allowing Seleski to reach on an error. Seleski Stole second then Muhl dropped a perfect bunt advancing Seleski to third and she reached first safely to give Hastings two runners with one out. Muhl then stole second and a wild pitch to McCoy allowed Seleski to score and Muhl to move to third. McCoy walked and Strain dropped another perfect bunt scoring Muhl to give the Raiders a 6-2 lead.
Hastings added two more runs in the bottom of the fourth while superb pitching by Haley Strain shut down the Packers the rest of the night to secure the 8-2 win. Three Raiders were perfect at the plate. McCoy, Strain and Muhl reached base on every plate appearance. Evans was 3-for-4 and Kaylee Hunt was 2-for-4 to round out the top hitters for Hastings. On the mound, Strain faced 29 batters and threw 116 pitches, 73 Strikes and 43 balls. She struck out six and walked three allowing only three hits.
Against the conference-leading North St. Paul Polars, things did not go as well as the Raiders had hoped. North drew first blood in the bottom of the first, but Hastings battled right back in the second to tie the game 1-1. Kaylee Hunt was hit by a pitch to reach first and then quickly stole second. Then, with two outs, Emily Dembroski hit one past the shortstop to score Hunt.
Kora Odman started on the mound for Hastings, giving Haley Strain some much-needed rest. This was likely a strategic move by Head Coach Jen Thesing, keeping the Polars from seeing Strain until the playoffs since they will likely be the team to beat again this year.
Odman pitched well for most of the game, but the young pitcher was no match for the Polar's offense giving up eight runs in two innings. After three complete innings, North had a 6-2 lead. Hastings cut the lead to 6-3 in the sixth, but North answered with three of their own to go up 9-3. The game finished 9-5, and despite their efforts, they fell to the first-place team in the conference.
Odman pitched all six innings facing 31 batters. She threw a great mix of pitches with 68 dropping in for strikes to only 39 balls. She struck out four and only walked two.
The girls needed to rebound quickly before facing another conference opponent in Simley on Thursday. That game stayed tied 0-0 through two and a half innings when Hastings took the lead for good. Muhl hit a single up the middle before a wild pitch to Jenkins advanced Muhl to second. Jenkins walked and McCoy hit a ground out to second to advance the runners. With two runners in scoring position, Strain hit one right up the gut to score Muhl and Jenkins. Strain advanced to second on the throw home in an attempt to get Jenkins, but the throw was too late. Evans’ bat continued to make contact and she hit a single up the middle to score Strain from second to give the Raiders the 3-0 lead.
Hastings added two more in the bottom of the fifth, Strain hit a solo home run over the right-center fence and Hunt hit a double which allowed Seleski to get an RBI single to right. Hastings held on to win 5-2.
Strain went the distance on the mound and threw 75 strikes and 28 balls against 31 total batters. She walked one and struck out seven in the win.
The Raiders are at the midpoint of their season with seven more conference games to go out of nine games remaining. May 1, they travel to Mahtomedi and May 2 they travel to Eastview (Apple Valley for those that lose track of Eastview and East Ridge). They return home on Friday, May 3 to face Two Rivers. This is also their Teacher Appreciation game where each player has their favorite teacher attend and they get announced in a small ceremony prior to the game. This usually starts around 4:15 p.m. This is a neat tradition the team has, and they have given me the honor of being their announcer for this event, so come out early, cheer on the teachers and stay for the game to cheer on the Raiders. All of the games above are scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start.