by Scott DCamp
Top-seeded Norwood-Young America scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to defeat Thief River Falls 9-5 in one of the two Class AA state tournament semifinal games Thursday night at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
“I thought we were the better team, for the most part, the whole game,” said Head Coach Carter Rogalla. “The last inning, there was maybe one ball hit well. Four or five of those balls were just hit in spots. If they were hit at anyone, it’s an easy out. Sometimes that happens – they were put in spots where we didn’t have anyone.”
Fresh off an eight-inning outing earlier in the day, senior starting pitcher Alexa Rogalla allowed six earned runs on 11 hits. Her line was misleading because Norwood-Young America wasn’t making hard contact, with only two fly balls leaving the infield.
“Alexa pitched a heck of a game. Our kids battled. It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess.”
Thief River Falls got off to a fast start in the semifinal game, plating two runs on four hits in the top of the first inning.
Alexa Rogalla and Lexi Huot both singled to lead off the game, and both came around to score on hits by Gabby Steele and Khloe Lund.
Norwood-Young America, which was coming off a 14-1 win in the quarterfinals, tied the game in the bottom of the second with two runs on a hit and two Prowler errors.
After a scoreless third inning, the Prowlers regained the lead with two runs in the top of the fourth. Eme Gunderson singled to left to open the inning, and with one out in the inning, Alexa Rogalla blasted a two-run home run to right center to give the Prowlers a 4-2 lead.
Thief River Falls added to its lead in the top of the fifth. With one out in the inning, Lund singled to shortstop. She stole second and scored on an RBI singled by Breanna Wienen to make it 5-2 in favor of the Prowlers.
Norwood-Young America continued to put pressure on Thief River Falls defensively, scoring a run on two hits and an error in the fifth to make it 5-3.
Following, a one-two-three top of the sixth, the Raiders took the lead and broke the game open with six runs on five hits, three walks and four stolen bases in the bottom of the sixth.
At one point, the Prowlers had a chance to limit the damage to three runs, when a questionable call all but sealed their fate. With the bases loaded and two outs in the inning, Hayden Glander hit a ball down the left field line that looked foul but was ruled fair, allowing two more runs to score.
“They are a good offensive team, we knew that coming in,” Carter Rogalla said. “They put pressure on us to try and make a play.”
Now the challenge facing the Prowlers is to get motivated to play for third place, after their championship hopes were dashed.
“I told them that big yellow thing’s going to pop up tomorrow and it’s going to be a great day for softball,” Carter Rogalla said. “They are going to have to find a way to flush this and get ready for a game at 11 o’clock.”
Thief River Falls…….…..200 210 0 – 5 11 3
Norwood-Young America.. 020 016 X – 9 11 0
Pitching – (TRF) Alexa Rogalla – L, 6 IP, 11 hits, 9 runs, 6 earned runs, 4 walks, 8 strikeouts; (NYA) Sadie Erickson 3 IP, 6 hits, 2 runs, 2 earned runs, 4 strikeouts; Auna Hallquist – W, 4 IP, 5 hits 3 runs, 3 earned
Offensive highlights – Alexa Rogalla 2/4, home run, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Lexi Huot 2/4, run; Khloe Lund 3/4, double, run, RBI; (NYA) Abby Mackenthun 3/4, 2 runs, 2 RBI; Aubrey Steinhagen 2/4, run, RBI.