Closing the door
By JOHN DENEGA
Minot State’s softball team won’t qualify for the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference tournament.
The Beavers have been buried near the bottom of the standings all year long. MSU’s season has been defined by long losing streaks and injuries.
But all year long coach, Bill Triplett has been lauding his team’s effort and improvement.
And it all came fruition in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Minnesota Duluth on Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium.
The Beavers got solid pitching and timely hitting to top the Bulldogs 5-3.
“They are probably the best team in our conference,” Triplett said. “They’re ranked five or six in the region and for us to get to that point with a lead in the seventh inning to slam the door and get a win against a team like that was awesome for us. It’s something we needed. We needed a shot in the arm.”
Junior Clarissa Ramirez got the nod in the circle for Game 1, and she turned in one of her best performances of the season.
She went 5 1/3 innings, scattering seven hits while only allowing two earned runs.
“I was just working the outside pitch,” she said. “(Sophomore catcher) Kyla (Larson) was calling a pretty good game and I just really never gave up.”
However, she didn’t go the distance, and a season-long problem for the Beavers (5-22 NSIC, 16-29 overall) has been closing out games with a late lead.
Junior Jenn Spencer flipped that script.
Spencer pitched the final 1 2/3 innings and didn’t surrender a hit while striking out two.
The bats backed MSU’s work in the circle.
And they did so in timely fashion.
Junior second baseman Rachel Burdette led off the fourth inning with a solo homer, and the Beavers added four more runs the same inning, all with two outs. Junior centerfielder Jordan Grant logged a two-run double while freshman shortstop Daniela Carbajal hit a seeing-eye RBI single up the gut.
“Getting RBIs with two outs is huge for any ball club, and that was huge for us today,” Triplett said.
Grant registered another two-hit game in the nightcap. However, her two base knocks comprised two thirds of the hits UMD junior starter Sam Hartmann yielded.
Hartman went the distance and didn’t allow a run while striking out seven.
“God she threw well,” UMD coach Jen Walter said. “Early on we struggled to get base runners, but she was just solid coming in and working ahead.”
Spencer also went the distance for MSU, but she was the tough-luck loser despite only giving up one earned run.
The Bulldogs (21-7, 32.13) scored twice in the sixth and added two more insurance runs in the seventh as sophomore centerfielder Hannah Schmoll led the charge with two hits and an RBI. UMD won 4-0.
“I don’t think it was our ‘A’ game today,” Walter said. “We struggled a little bit, and a lot of that was how Minot State played. They put pressure on us and give them credit. We were just a little better in the second game. It wasn’t like we were a ton better.”
Minot State closes out its season today, hosting St. Cloud State in a doubleheader starting at noon.
John Denega covers Minot High athletics, Minot State softball and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @JohnDenega_MDN.