by Scott DCamp
Thief River Falls advanced to the state semifinal round of the Class A softball state tournament with a 4-3 eight-inning win over Le Sueur-Henderson Thursday morning at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
With two outs in the inning, pinch runner Abby Molstad on second and Khloe Lund on first, senior Breanna Wienen delivered a base hit up the middle to score Molstad from second to give the Prowlers a walk-off win.
“I thought it would be huge to get off to a good start,” said Head Coach Carter Rogalla. “We couldn’t have asked for a better. Their first batter got on with a little flare down the line, but we got the next three outs, including a couple strikeouts.”
The Prowlers answered their own fast start in the field with a fast start at the plate. Senior Alexa Rogalla led off the Prowlers’ first at bat with a triple. Lexi Huot bunted and reached safely when the Le Sueur-Henderson defender held the ball to walk Alexa Rogalla back to third.
Huot stole second without a throw, and both Alexa Rogalla and Huot scored on a single by Camryn Schwab. Schwab moved up to third on a throwing error by Le Sueur-Henderson left fielder Erica Cronk. Gabby Steele reached on a throwing error by pitcher Kelsey Berndt and Schwab scored from third to make it 3-0 in favor of the Prowlers.
Berndt retired the next three batters to get out of the first inning, and she retired the Prowlers in order in the second, third and fourth innings to give her team a chance to get back into the game.
Alexa Rogalla kept Le Sueur-Henderson’s bats relatively silent during that stretch, allowing just one hit and two total baserunners in innings two through four.
The Giants got their offense going with two runs on two hits and an error in the top of the fifth; and after Prowlers failed to answer in the bottom of the sixth, the Giants tied the game on a one-out RBI groundout by Olivia Fitz.
Thief River Falls looked like it would regain the lead in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs in the inning and the bases loaded, Eme Gunderson hit a sharp line drive that found the mitt of Le Sueur-Henderson shortstop Elizabeth Milam, stranding three runners on base.
Le Sueur-Henderson’s Halle Bemmels singled with one out in the top of the seventh. She took second on a sacrifice bunt, and moved up to third on a wild pitch by Alexa Rogalla, and she was stranded on third when Milan grounded out to Wienen at second to end the seventh inning threat.
The game went to extra innings after the Prowlers went down in order in the bottom of the seventh.
Le Sueur-Henderson managed a two-out base hit to right by Cronk in the top half of the eighth.
Thief River Falls began what would end up being its final at bat of the game with a hard-hit flyball to deep left field by Schwab that was hauled in by Cronk. Steele and Lund hit back-to-back singles to left field, with Steele exiting the game in favor of pinch runner Molstad.
Hannah Magnusson fouled out to first for the second out of the inning. Wienen worked a full count before hitting the game winner up the middle.
Carter Rogalla said he would have like to see his offense score a few more runs with the chances it had early on.
“The game got pretty easy for them for a while,” Carter Rogalla said. “In the seventh inning, even though we didn’t get a run, I thought we hit a few balls well. That last inning, Schwabby hit the ball well and their outfielder made a great catch, but we had three clutch hits after that. Offensively, we did what we needed to do.”
Alexa Rogalla picked up the win after going all eight innings, allowing one earned run on seven hits, with nine strikeouts. Berndt took the loss, going seven and two-thirds innings with three earned runs on nine hits, with eight strikeouts and one walk.
“Alexa was pretty sharp, especially early,” Carter Rogalla said. “She was throwing it with good velocity and she was hitting her spots.
The Prowlers will play Norwood-Young America at 5 p.m. in the Class A semifinals.
Le Sueur-Henderson.. 000 021 00 – 3 7 2
Thief River Falls…….. 300 000 01 – 4 9 2
– (LSH) Kelsey Berndt, -L, 7.2 IP, 9 hits, 4 runs, 3 earned runs, 1 walk, eight strikeouts; (TRF) Alexa Rogalla – W, 8 IP, 7 hits, 3 runs, 1 earned run, 0 walks, 9 strikeouts.
Offensive highlights – (LSH) Hallie Bemmels 3/4, double, 2 RBI; Erica Cronk 1/3; Keely Olness 1/3. (TRF ) Alexa Rogalla 2/4, triple, run; Camryn Schwab 2.4; Lexi Huot 1/4, run.