Mercy rule-shortened games are nothing new for the Stanley softball team.
Entering the Class B state tournament, the Blue Jays had played five games ended by the 10-run mercy rule. They were on the winning side of all five.
On Thursday, Stanley learned what it felt like to be on the losing end of a lopsided result. The Blue Jays struggled in the field and at the plate, falling to Kindred-Richland 13-3 in five innings in the quarterfinals at South Hill Complex. The Vikings advanced to the semifinals and will play Westhope-Newburg-Bottineau today at noon.
Kindred-Richland’s Carley Knudsen comes around to score during the second inning of the Vikings’ 13-3 victory over Stanley on Thursday at South Hill Complex.
"The girls didn't get the fire under their butts like they were supposed to starting off," Stanley coach Kayelee Corpron said. "Then they got down and kept getting down on themselves. We definitely weren't helping our pitcher out at all."
The Blue Jays (12-3) committed four errors - three in the second inning - and trailed nearly the entire game. They took an early 1-0 lead in their first at-bat, but Kindred-Richland responded with two runs in the bottom half and broke the contest open with six in the second. The Vikings brought 10 batters to the plate in the second and scored all six runs with two outs. Molly Pfeifer and Mikayla Reinke recorded RBI singles and Greta Klinnert and Savannah Christensen drew bases-loaded walks.
"It was tough conditions with the heat and the wind, but as long as we put the ball in play - put the ball on the ground and bunting and play small ball - we didn't have to worry about the wind," Kindred-Richland coach Mike Oehlke said. "Just put the ball in play and let them make mistakes."
The Vikings (17-4) recorded three hits in the first two innings. They had three others reach base via Stanley errors and two more on walks.
The Blue Jays settled down and started making plays in the third and fourth innings as pitcher Rebekah Taylor retired the side in order in both frames. But Stanley couldn't get the bats going. The Blue Jays scored a run in the first, third and fifth to match their lowest scoring output of the season. Kindred-Richland's pitcher, Klinnert, scattered seven hits and struck out seven.
"Stanley's a good hitting team and you just have to work around the plate and make them swing, make them put the ball in play and let us play defense," Klinnert said.
Catcher Sarah Taylor was the lone Blue Jay to solve Kinnert. She went 3-for-3 with two doubles and three RBIs. She also threw out three Kindred-Richland baserunners.
The Vikings put an exclamation point on Stanley's worst loss of the season with a five-run fifth to end the game. The first seven Kindred-Richland batters reached base. Klinnert led off the inning with a single and Christensen followed with a double to center. Reinke singled to plate Klinnert and McKenzie Roob doubled home two in the No. 9 spot. Pfeifer added her second RBI of the game two batters later and Shelby Grabanski ended it with a single through the right side, scoring Carley Knudsen.
"We got the first couple runners on base so we had a couple outs to play with," Oehlke said. "We can move runners around. Just getting the first batters on helped."
Stanley will look to bounce back when they play Grafton in a consolation semifinal today at 4:30 p.m.
"I think it will show them they're not unbeatable," Corpron said. "They're amazing, but they have to show it."
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.