This year's Faribault Falcon softball team has done something no team in Faribault High School history has been able to do.  Capture a Big Nine Conference softball title.  With a 13-0 five inning win over Owatonna the Falcons secured at least a share of the crown. Thursday they travel to Mankato West in search of an unbeaten conference season.  As I have been telling the ladies the last couple weeks they aren't in kindergarten and don't want to share the title.  Faribault was also victorious in the second game 6-0 and now has 11 shutouts in 16 games.

It's the first time in 11 seasons a school outside Mankato has been a softball champion in the Big Nine.  Mankato West is the 5 time defending Big Nine Champ so my guess is Thursday's game will not be easy.  Faribault was clearly focused for the first game against Owatonna today jumping out to a 6 run lead in the first inning and ending the game early to secure that Conference title share.  Owatonna was the home game in the first contest which counted toward the conference standings.

In the first inning senior Ali Schak hit a 1-2 pitch to third and was safe on an error.  Following a strikeout senior Bre Bresnahan stroked a single over the third base bag that was cut off nicely by the Huskies left fielder Mia Hiber.  Hiber threw a perfect strike to the third baseman but Schak slid under the tag and Bresnahan took an extra base on  the throw to third.  Senior Cassie Swanson then smacked a two RBI single.  There were back to back walks of junior Abby Van Ryn and sophomore Abby Lake to load the bases against Owatonna sophomore Liv Larson.  With the bags juiced junior Ellie Knutson worked the count full and knew Larson would have to throw a strike so she jumped on the pitch and hit a bases clearing double to right center to give the Falcons a 5-0 lead.  After a strikeout junior Lauren O'Neil was walked.  Knutson was advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Owatonna's catcher tried to throw out O'Neil stealing second base.

Owatonna lead batter senior center fielder Jamie Davison was hit by a pitch on the 7th pitch of her at bat against junior Falcon pitcher McKayla Armbruster in the bottom of the first.   Senior right fielder Rilee Schmidt also had a great at bat against the state's top strikeout pitcher fouling off a few nasty pitches and working the count full before walking on the 9th pitch.  Armbruster appeared to pitch a little angry the rest of the inning and was throwing some serious heat.  The junior right handed pitcher fanned the next three batters and did not allow another Owatonna player to reach base the rest of the game.

Fifteen straight batters were retired, eleven by strikeout.  After a 31 pitch first inning Armbruster finished the game with 84 pitches, 61 for strikes in the five inning first game.

Faribault added three runs in the second.  Armbruster started the inning crushing a double on a 0-2 count.  Sophomore Kelsie Demars came in to courtesy run for the pitcher and scored on the RBI single by Bresnahan which came on a 2-1 count.  Swanson stepped to the plate and hit a line drive 2 run homer to center on a 0-2 count.

Owatonna brought senior pitcher Alexa Sommers in the third inning and she had a up and down in order inning with two strikeouts.

The fourth started with a walk of Bresnahan.  Swanson stepped to the plate with her two hits and four RBI and hit a grounder to third.  The third baseman tried to throw Bresnahan out at second base and threw the ball into right field.  Bresnahan went to third and Swanson was at first on the fielder's choice.  Following a pop out, Bresnahan scored on a ground out by Lake.  The sophomore was retired but it was a productive out because she clearly tried to hit the ball slowly to second and the only play they had was to throw Lake out at first.  Knutson hit a grounder to shortstop resulting in an error that scored Swanson.  Knutson stole second and was left there.  The Falcons were up 11-0.

In the top of the fifth inning O'Neil started the inning with a single, Schak added a single.  O'Neil eventually advanced to third on a wild pitch.  Demars batted for Armbruster and hit a grounder to the pitcher who correctly looked at O'Neil but threw to first and O'Neil scored sliding right between the legs of the catcher. Schak went to third on the play .  Bresnahan hit a chopper to the pitcher who looked at Schak and she scored on the throw to first back to home.

In game two Faribault wasn't able to score until the fourth inning and Owatonna went up and down in order the first four innings to run the consecutive batters retired by Armbruster to 27. Sophomore Kaitlyn Madole was the first Owatonna player to get a hit off Armbruster a perfectly placed fly ball to shallow left field.  With two outs senior left fielder Torey Buck had a solid single.  Sophomore second baseman Anna Vetsch had the other Huskies hit in the sixth inning with a two out single.

Armbruster struck out 11 batters in the first game no hitter and 13 batters in the second game three hitter.  She threw 87 pitches the second game, 66 for strikes and had no walks or hit batters.  Armbruster was 13 of 17 first pitch strikes on the first game and 17 of 24 in first pitch strikes the second contest.

KDHL Radio will have the broadcast Thursday from Mankato West High School.  First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. so we will hit the airwaves about 4:20 p.m.  Tell all your friends and neighbors who can't make it to the game for static free listening download the FREE KDHL app on all your mobile devices and you will feel like you are sitting in the broadcast area with me at the game.  Some of the Owatonna fans told me after the game they will be tuning in.

People all over the world can listen just by tapping the KDHL app.  While you do that remember to download the POWER 96 Faribault app so you are covered when the Falcons are on that station.  It's not only terrific for listening to games but when severe weather is happening, looking at the radar anytime, to check wind speed and direction when spraying fields.  There are so many reasons to tap the app.

Faribault Senior Uniform Numbers Outlined with Styrofoam Cups on Fence Behind Home Plate. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld