Alex softball: Cards fall just short of 8AAA title game
A spirited run by the Alexandria softball team came to an end last Thursday as the Cardinals came one game short of the section title game.
Alexandria kept its hopes alive in the 8AAA tournament on Wednesday with an 11-1 win over Bemidji after beating Big Lake 4-1 just minutes before. That put them up against Central Lakes Conference champion Brainerd a day later, where the Warriors won a 6-0 game to knock Alexandria out of the playoffs.
“I don’t want to use the travel as an excuse,” Cardinals head coach Randy Albers said. “We just did not play that well. Maddie Franz, their pitcher, does a nice job of keeping you off balance, and we did not get many good swings on her. Mike Zauhur, the Brainerd coach, runs an extremely good program and his kids are always well prepared. I will give our girls credit, they competed to the very last out.”
Franz scattered five hits while walking one and striking out one. She relied on her defense and they made the plays behind her to the win.
Franz’s offense gave her some room to work with after a three-run first inning. Two errors by Alexandria helped that cause. The Warriors added two more in the fourth and one in the sixth.
The Cardinals had a chance early when they threatened in the second inning with three straight singles from Jana Roste, Anna Lee and Emily Kuennen. Franz settled in from there to strand all three runners and keep the Cardinals scoreless.
Senior Taylor Ellingson wrapped up her career by allowing two earned runs on six hits. She walked nobody and struck out two. Kuennen also finished her career with a double and a single.
The win over Bemidji on Wednesday came after the Lumberjacks had dropped Alexandria to the loser’s bracket earlier in the tournament, but this game was all Cardinals. They scored five runs in the third behind a bases-loaded triple from Anna Lee that opened the game up. They added five more in the fifth to end the game after five.
Ellingson got the win by allowing just two hits and two walks. She struck out six and the one run allowed was unearned. The Cardinals also played strong defense behind her with just one error. Ellingson added three singles and three RBIs at the plate.
The Cardinals needed to beat Big Lake to get to that game against Bemidji and did so behind another gem from Ellingson. The senior pitcher scattered five hits and no walks and kept Big Lake guessing all night. Ellingson struck out six.
Her offense gave her an early lead to work with after two runs in the first inning on a two-RBI single from Jana Roste. Junior Carly Dropik then hammered a two-run home run in the third to make it 4-0.
Kuennen, Ellingson and Sarah Bruzek were all four-year starters for the Cardinals softball team. They join Aubree Schmitt as seniors Alexandria will have to replace next season.
“It’s going to be hard,” Albers said of replacing three four-year starters. “We will miss them dearly. They are good softball players but even better people. They have set the bar extremely high, but we have a very good group of players returning and they will fill in nicely.”
The Cardinals finished the season 16-10 overall. They tied for second in the Central Lakes Conference at 9-5. It was a season filled with some ups and downs as Alexandria lost five of its first six games before winning seven straight. The Cardinals then ended things with a memorable four wins in the 8AAA playoffs.
“We had a lot of competitive, close games,” Albers said. “We met a lot of our team goals and came up a little short of our main goal and that was a section title. Two things we ask from the girls is one, be good teammates and two is to compete. They exceeded those two goals, so as a coaching staff we are very appreciative of that.”
ALEXANDRIA 000 000 0 – 0
BRAINERD 300 201 X – 6
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Ellingson – L, 6IP, 6H, 6R, 2ER, 0BB, 2SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE – Ellingson – 1B; Roste – 1B; Lee – 1B; Kuennen – 1B, 2B
ALEXANDRIA 005 15 – 11
BEMIDJI 001 00 – 1
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Ellingson – W, 5IP, 2H, 1R, 0ER, 2BB, 6SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE – Ellingson – 3-3, BB, 2 RBI, 1 run; Kaila Dewanz – 1-3, BB, 1 run; Sarah Bruzek – 0-4; Dropik – 0-1, 2 BB, 1 run; Roste – 1-2, BB, 2 runs, RBI; Lee – 1-3, 3B, 1 run, 3 RBI; Karsten Granning – 1 run; Jost – 2-3, 1 run, RBI; Mckenzie Revering – 1 run, 2 BB; Emily Kuennen – 0-3, 1 run; Haley Burns – 1 run
ALEXANDRIA 202 000 0 – 4
BIG LAKE 000 001 0 – 1
ALEXANDRIA PITCHING – Ellingson – W, 7IP, 5H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 6SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE – Ellingson – 0-3, BB; Dewanz – 1-4, 1 run; Bruzek – 2-3, BB, 1 run, 2B; Dropik – 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Roste – 1-3, 2 RBI; Jost – 1-2, BB; Revering – 1-3