Bethlehem Academy Softball Advances to Subsection Title Game
The Faribault Bethlehem Academy Cardinals defeated Blooming Prairie 4-2 at North Alexander Park in Faribault on Wednesday.
The win means they play Hayfield for the West Subsection title at 3PM Friday at Todd Park in Austin.
The winner of that game goes to the section final four, which begins Tuesday in Austin.
While top seed Hayfield rolled by No. 4 seed Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton 11-1 in five innings Wednesday, the Cardinals had a sluggish start against the Awesome Blossoms.
Bethlehem Academy head coach Tom Langfeldt got his team jump-started in the third inning after back-to-back up-and-down in order trips to the plate with bunts.
Junior Breanna Degrood had a bunt single to start the inning and was sacrificed to second by eighth-grader Delaney Donahue's bunt.
No. 9 hitter junior Kelsey Novak followed with a half-swing mini pop-up perfectly placed over the pitcher's head between first and second. Sophomore Tess Glenzinski had an RBI single.
After a Cardinal strikeout, pitcher Shelby Meyer had a level swing connection for a two RBI single and Bethlehem Academy had a crooked number on the board.
Novak and Glenzinski's hits came on 0-2 counts and Meyer had a 1-2 count in the inning as seven batters went to the plate.
Blooming Prairie answered with two runs in the top of the fourth after three successive hits. Junior centerfielder Bria Baldwin clubbed a double with one out. Junior pitcher Elly Strunk had a single and Baldwin went to third base. Strunk stole second and scored along with Baldwin on a single by sophomore McKenna Hein.
When the throw came home, Hein tried to gain second base and was thrown out by Cardinal sophomore catcher Grace Viland. Hein was also thrown out by Viland when she tried to steal second after walking to lead off the second inning.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Cardinals began the inning with back-to-back infield singles by sophomore first baseman Meagan Donahue and sophomore second baseman Kylie Hanson and it looked like they were going to answer the Awesome Blossom scores.
After a Degrood sacrifice to advance the runners to second and third, Delaney Donahue hit a scorcher right at the second baseman and Novak grounded out to second to end the inning and the threat.
Bethlehem Academy did add a run in the fifth when Glenzinski gained first on an error after a bunt was laid down. The speedy lead off hitter stole second for the second time and was sacrificed to third by sophomore third baseman Jessica Oathoudt.
Glenzinski scored on an RBI single by Viland. Glenzinski has more than 25 stolen bases in 21 games and, since last Tuesday's Waterville-Elysian-Morristown game, has been running on a bum ankle. It sure didn't look like it.
In the top of the seventh after a pop out to the shortstop, it looked like Blooming Prairie might be in business when sophomore shortstop McKenna Hein crushed a liner to right center field.
Glenzinski actually got to the ball from left center field and it ticked off the end of her glove for a double. I frankly could not believe my eyes. That lady can run and Cardinal assistant coach Kelci Halvorson said she has the bum ankle.
Eighth-grade catcher Maya Lembke followed with a single to put the tying run at first base and the go ahead run at the plate so there were runners at first and third.
The Awesome Blossoms ran themselves right out of the inning when a courtesy runner for the catcher tried to steal second and Viland threw her out. Co-head coach Alison Mach was not very happy in the third base coach's box, so a sign may have been missed.
The tying run still walked up to the plate and the only senior starter first baseman Kalyn Naatz stroked the ball to left field and Degrood made a very nice catch to end the game.
Our Faribault State Farm Insurance agents Faribault players of the game were Degrood, Novak, Glenzinski, Meyer and Viland.
Meyer mixed speeds well and struck out five while walking just one throwing 96 pitches, 66 for strikes. She was 13 of 25 first-pitch strikes and allowed six hits. Glenzinski got on base twice and scored both times while stealing second twice. Degrood had two nice bunts, scored and made a nice catch to end the game. Novak connected for a single, stole second and scored. Viland had the RBI single in the fifth jumping on the first pitch and threw out three Awesome Blossom runners.
I told Langfeldt after the game that's a nice weapon to have -- a catcher who guns down runners. Viland is not afraid to throw behind runners either, which I love in a catcher.
Strunk finished the game with 88 pitches thrown in six innings, 68 for strikes. She fanned six and walked nobody while scattering seven hits.
Blooming Prairie moves to the elimination bracket and plays Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton at 2:30PM Friday.
The winner of that game plays the loser of the Hayfield/Bethlehem Academy contest at 4:30PM Friday at Todd Park in Austin.
The Bethlehem Academy games will be on Power 96 Radio 95.9 FM and www.power96radio.com.
BA's graduation is Friday night, but there isn't a single senior on the team.
Over on the east side, No. 2 seed Randolph will play the winner of Thursday's game between top seed Wabasha-Kellogg and Southland in Wabasha at 4PM Friday.
The winner of the 4PM game is the East Subsection champion and doesn't have to play again until Tuesday.
Randolph downed Lewiston-Altura 8-2 in Randolph on Wednesday.