The Alexandria softball team came into Thursday’s Section 8AAA second-round playoff game at top-seeded Sartell knowing a couple things for sure -- the Cardinals had to limit errors and find a way to hit with the Sabres.
Sartell averages almost 7.5 runs per game. The Sabres put 11 on the board the last time these two teams met on May 2, and that’s exactly where they ended up again in an 11-1 win for Sartell that ended in five innings due to the 10-run rule.
“To play with them, you got to play good defense and you’re going to have to hit with them because they put the ball in play,” Alexandria head coach Randy Albers said. “We had chances early. They were putting the leadoff girl on with some walks, and we just didn’t score runs early. The game against them is not going to be 3-2. It’s probably going to take 6, 7 runs and they just outhit us. They were the better team today, no doubt.”
The Sabres outhit the Cardinals 9-3 overall. Alexandria’s only run came on an RBI double from Ally Albers in the third.
The Cardinals committed just one error, but it was a big one. A throw after fielding a bunt off the bat of Sartell’s Marissa Martins went up the right-field line and sent around two unearned runs.
That started the scoring in a seven-run fourth inning for the Sabres that opened up the game. Senior Kendra Hardy issued four walks that frame, and Sartell’s Ava Williams, Rainna Stangle and Riley Trobec all had run-scoring singles.
“They put a bunt play on and we threw it out into right field. That kind of got things going, and then they got some hits to follow it up,” Albers said. “We thought the strike zone got a little bit tight, but to their credit, they hit the ball today.”
Trobec started in the circle for the Sabres and worked her way out of some trouble early. She walked five batters, but Alexandria could not bunch those together with hits when the game was still in the balance early on.
“I don’t know if we just got over confident or weren’t focused enough, but we seemed in the right mindset,” Alexandria junior Autumn Botz said. “I don’t know what it was.”
Botz said the Cardinals (11-9) believed they could hang right with Sartell (15-5) coming into this game after doing so earlier in the year. The Sabres won that regular-season matchup by an 11-5 final, but Alexandria led 5-4 after five innings.
That loss in early May dropped Alexandria to 0-5, but they responded with 10 wins in their last 14 games to close the regular season. The Cardinals are hopeful that they can respond again with their backs against the wall now in this double-elimination tournament.
“We’ll be ready,” Botz said. “We won’t be as stressed, I don’t think. I think we’ll just be ready to go with a good mindset.”
The Cardinals and the rest of the teams left standing in the losers bracket will play in Bemidji on Monday. A win would send them to another elimination game right after their first game for the right to play again on May 29.
“All season long they have had pretty short memories,” Albers said of his team. “The games, the innings where we haven’t played well, they bounce back and they compete. There’s been games that we’ve come back and won. The pressure is off now. We’re in survival mode. This was hopefully the bad game in the tournament, and we’d like another shot at them.”
ALEXANDRIA 001 00 - 1 3 1
SARTELL 030 71 - 11 9 1
PITCHING - Alexandria - Emily Harris - L, 2IP, 4H, 3R, 3ER, 0BB, 1SO; Kendra Hardy - 1.1IP, 3H, 7R, 5ER, 4BB, 0SO; Ally Albers - 0.2IP, 2H, 1R, 1ER, 0BB, 0SO; Sartell - Riley Trobec - W, 5IP, 3H, 1R, 1ER, 5BB, 2SO
ALEXANDRIA OFFENSE - Taylor Sayre - 0-2, BB; Albers - 1-3, 2B, RBI; Sydney Christenson - 1-3, 2B; Autumn Botz - 0-2, BB; Hardy - 2 BB; Sydney Drew - 0-2; Kaci Trosvig - 1-2; Maci Tilleskjor - 0-1, BB, 1 run; Joria Downing - 0-1