PREP SOFTBALL: PA goes 1-1 in opening day of soggy state tourney

MANKATO -- After walking off the field at Caswell Park on Thursday afternoon, the Pipestone Area softball team sat quietly. Moments following a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Hermantown in the Class AA state tournament, head coach Troy Bouman told his...

PA's Brooke Woelber
AARON HAGEN/DAILY GLOBE Pipestone Area shortstop Brooke Woelber catches the throw as Hermantown's Megan Mullen slides safely into second during the first inning of Thursday's Class AA state quarterfinal softball game in Mankato.

MANKATO -- After walking off the field at Caswell Park on Thursday afternoon, the Pipestone Area softball team sat quietly.

Moments following a heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Hermantown in the Class AA state tournament, head coach Troy Bouman told his players there wasn't time to dwell on the past.

"The biggest thing I said to them was, 'Hey, I know you're hurting right now, but we have to go play in 25 minutes,'" Bouman said. "We walked 300 yards maybe and we have the walk to get down there and get refocused because we have to play again. We don't want to go 0-2 and go home."

Because of a rain delay Thursday morning, the Arrows didn't have time between games. Instead, they had a short walk to refocus and fight to extend their season.

"I think that's better that we had to play back to back instead of having us sit there and dwell on it," PA senior Bailey Bouman said. "We play doubleheaders all season, so we're used to playing doubleheaders, but emotionally, I don't think it will set in until Monday or Sunday night."


The Arrows (22-2) made the quick recovery, defeating Ottertail Central 6-5 in the consolation semifinals.

"It's tough," Bailey Bouman said. "I mean, you have to refocus. Especially for the seniors it's tough because everybody wants to be in the state championship. It's tough, but I think we bounced back. We got a little lax in the sixth inning and gave up some runs, but we came back and got a good win."

Facing the defending state champion Hermantown Hawks in the first round, the Arrows struck first.

Amber Haupert singled with one out in the third and Bailey Bouman (2-for-3) drove her home with a run-scoring double, giving PA a 1-0 lead.

However, those would be two of only four hits Hermantown pitcher Megan Mullen, who later notched 16 strikeouts in no-hitter in the Hawks' 1-0 semifinal victory, allowed in the game.

"She was a great pitcher," PA's Brooke Woelber said. "We really tried to work against her rise ball because that was something we've never seen before. But getting up against someone and practicing it in batting practice is a little different. She was a good pitcher and it was a good experience for a lot of us to see. I didn't think we did too bad."

Woelber, who was on base three times against Mullen, reached on an error in the fourth, and Bailey Bouman had a single in the fifth, but the runners were stranded both times.

Meanwhile, Bailey Bouman (7 innings, six hits, one earned run, four strikeouts) was keeping the Hawks off the bases.


She allowed a hit in the first and third innings, but both times, the PA defense came up with a big play to end the inning.

With one out in the sixth, Julia Gilbert reached on a bunt single and advanced to second and third on wild pitches.

Rudi Summers followed by laying down a bunt, and Gilbert scored on the throw to first, tying the game at 1-all.

The Hawks added another run in the seventh. Ellen Folman singled and went to second on Stephanie Thun's single.

The next batter, Katie Thun, hit a shot to left field. However, Emily Aaland made a nice diving catch to save a run.

"We knew coming up here that (Bailey) is not going to strike out a ton," Troy Bouman said. "She was going to hit her spots and the defense played great behind her and made great plays. Emily Larson and Emily Aaland both made diving catches in the outfield. When you come up here, you have to make those plays. They haven't had that many opportunities all year to do that. To have the opportunity and to step up and do it, hats off to those two girls."

With two outs and two on, Olivia Carlson singled to right field, plating Haley Wargin (running for Folman) for what proved to be the game-winning run.

"I actually thought we played really well," Woelber said. "I think our girls played an excellent game. It's kind of a heart-wrencher because we felt like we had it. But what can you do?"


But the Arrows weren't done against Mullen yet.

Sam Bloemendaal hit a solid single to lead off the bottom of the seventh.

"I haven't really hit the ball lately," Bloemendaal said. "I've had like eight strikeouts in a row. So I just said, 'Swing the bat,' and it went well."

Paige Petersen put down a sacrifice bunt, but Hermantown tried to throw Bloemendaal out at second. She beat the throw, giving PA two runners on with no outs.

Ashley Bos then sacrificed the two runners up a base and after a groundout for the second out of the inning, Bailey Bouman drew an intentional walk.

With the bases loaded, Taylor Swenson battled against Mullen (seven innings, four hits, two walks, 10 strikeouts), but the Hawks were able to record a groundout, sending them to the semifinals.

"I thought the kids really played well in the first game," Troy Bouman said. "We played perfect. We didn't make any errors and we got hits when we needed to. They end up getting a good call to go for them and they took the lead. You have to give our kids credit, going into the bottom of the seventh down a run against one of the state's best pitcher and we end up with second and third and nobody out. It comes down to the end and they made enough plays to win.

"Does it hurt? Yes. The kids were a little emotional afterward. I think the toughest thing was to try to turn around and get them ready to play 25 or 30 minutes later back to back. Everybody's goal is to win the state championship. To lose and have to play right away is so hard. I have to give my kids a lot of credit for gutting it out."


After the emotional loss, the Arrows were poised to keep their season alive.

"We were very upset," Bloemendaal said. "But we played well. I think once we got the five-run lead, we coasted a little bit and relaxed. We can't do that."

Bailey Bouman (4-for-4, two RBIs) singled to lead off the game and scored on Woelber's single, giving PA a 1-0 lead early.

"We probably saw the best pitcher in the state in Hermantown," Bailey Bouman said. "To come in here we kind of knew what we were looking for, so it was easier for us to see the ball after facing one of the best to come down and face another really good pitcher, we were able to see the ball pretty well."

Bailey Bouman drove in a run in the second and Woelber (3-for-4, three RBIs) had an RBI in the fifth as the Arrows had a 3-0 advantage.

"You don't want to go out with a loss," Woelber said. "You always want to come out with a 'W,' but it was really tough to come back and play because we wanted that first one so bad."

Woelber and Bailey Bouman delivered again in the sixth, each knocking in a run as the Arrows jumped out to a 5-0 lead.

However, the Bulldogs took advantage of four PA errors to score four runs in the bottom of the sixth.


"They were a little ticked off, but I think that anger and that emotion really took its toll," Troy Bouman said. "I thought we lost some of that mental focus and some of that toward the end of the game. Ottertail's emotion was kind of down at the beginning of the game and they started picking theirs up at the end of the game. It was really a game of emotion for both teams."

Petersen walked with one out in the seventh and with runners on second and third, Bailey Bouman was intentionally walked. However, on the fourth pitch, the ball got away from the catcher, allowing Petersen to score a key run.

Ottertail Central scored a run in the bottom of the seventh, but with the tying run on second, the Arrows came up with a key out, sending them to the consolation championship.

"It's definitely important to keep our confidence up and end the season (today) hopefully on a good note," Bloemendaal said. "Not the note we wanted to start with, but now we have a new goal and a new dream."

And while the Arrows had championship aspirations, the team will have one more chance to play together.

"We want to come up here and play three," Bailey Bouman said. "I think for our emotions, it's better that we get to play (today) and we get to play one more game. It's a big thing that we can all go out with three games at the state tournament."

PA faces Rocori, Cold Spring today at 9 a.m.

"Hopefully we come out and play like we can play," Woelber said. "I know everyone is going to have to hit the sack pretty early (Thursday) and have an early morning. But we'll just come and do what we can do."


Game 1 R H E

Hermantown 000 001 1 - 2 6 3

PA 001 000 0 - 1 4 0

Game 2 R H E

PA 110 012 1 - 6 10 4

Ottertail 000 004 1 - 5 8 2

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