Mankato West Softball Outlasts Faribault in 14 Innings
The Faribault Falcons had their chances to walk-off against Mankato West tonight at Alexander Park in Faribault. The Scarlets however captured a 3-1 win in a 14 inning marathon. It was the third extra inning game for the Falcons this season and their first loss. Mankato West is now 7-0. Faribault 8-1.
McKayla Armbruster struck out 19 batters and gave up her first 3 walks of the season. The Scarlets clubbed 12 hits in the game (Armbruster had allowed 20 total hits in the previous 8 games).
Mankato West started junior Kayla Grunst in the pitching circle and finished with freshman lefty Lauryn Douglas. They combined to strike out 6 Faribault batters, issued a combined 5 walks (2 intentional) and allowed 11 hits.
Faribault scored their lone run in the bottom of the first inning and probably should have had a crooked number on the board. Lauren O'Neil started the game with a walk. Ellie Knutson hammered the ball but the Scarlets center fielder Lani Schopper recorded the out. Armbruster hit a hard grounder near the first base side of the second base bag, West second baseman Abbi Stierlin made a diving stop of the ball and got O'Neil out at second base. Senior Zoe Morrissey went in to run for Armbruster at first base. Abby Van Ryn ripped a single up the middle to place runners at the corners. Abby Lake took a 1-2 pitched and laced it for a RBI hit to give the Falcons the lead and runners at the corners again. A pop out ended the inning.
It stayed 1-0 Faribault until the top of the 5th inning. After Armbruster recorded back to back strikeouts to start the inning the top of the order came up for the Scarlets. Junior Madi Mueller hammered a 1-2 pitch to left center field for a double. Then freshman Lani Schopper connected for an RBI single to tie the game. Schopper would finish the night with 4 hits including a 2 RBI double in the top of the 14th inning with the bases loaded and 1 out.
Mankato West Head Coach Don Krusemark pulled Grunst from the pitching circle after 6 innings of work. She threw 99 pitches, 64 for strikes, allowed 4 hits, 3 walks and tallied 4 strikeouts (3 looking). Douglas went the next 7 innings, gave up 7 hits with 2 strikeouts and 2 walks (both intentional).
The Falcons #9 hitter Lindsay O'Neil stroked a one out single in the bottom of the 7th inning. In the 5th she walked and stole a base primarily due to the pitch being in the dirt, hard for Scarlets sophomore catcher Bri Stoltzman to come up with cleanly and make a throw. Faribault attempted to have O'Neil get into scoring position with a steal and she was thrown out erasing the winning run from the basepaths. Faribault attempted 5 steals and was successful on two of them.
Mankato West had one person get to second while stealing when Schopper took off for second with two outs in the 10th. My book had an error on the play because Van Ryn's throw was at the bag in time but the receiver couldn't hold on to the ball.
In the bottom of the 8th inning Knutson collected an infield single to start the inning. Faribault chose not to sacrifice her into scoring position. Armbruster hit the first pitch deep to right field, Knutson tagged and went to second so it was the same result as a sacrifice bunt. Winning run at second with one out. Coach Krusemark intentionally walked cleanup hitter Van Ryn. It almost backfired.
Abby Lake was smashing the ball all day with two singles prior to that at bat including the only RBI for Faribault. Lake crushed the ball right to the third baseman. The next batter was fanned and the Scarlets were still in business.
In the bottom of the 10th inning Knutson singled with one out. She had been thrown out trying to steal in the third inning after a walk. Knutson did a very quick pop up slide into second and it appeared to me she was safe but was called out by the base umpire. Falcon Head Coach Chris Silber decided to try and have her get into scoring position by stealing again. Stoltzman threw her out again.
In the bottom of the 11th inning Van Ryn led off with a single. Faribault could not get a bunt down to move her into scoring position. She did go to second on a ground out for the second out and was stranded there.
In the bottom of the 12th inning Lindsay O'Neil crushed a one out double and was stranded there.
In the bottom of the 13th the Falcons had bases loaded with nobody out and did not score. Back to back bunt attempts ended with runners thrown out at the plate. (With the bunt defense on a half swing pop up over an infielder's head gets the winning run home or a deep fly ball.) Coach Krusemark elected to have Lake given a free pass to load the bases again. Morrissey pinch hit and hit the ball down the first base line. It was fielded by the first baseman and she stepped on the bag to end the inning.
In the top of the 14th Douglas started the inning with a bloop single that turned into two bases because the ball was overrun. Freshman second baseman Abbi Stierlin collected a single. Holly Wiste executed a beautiful bunt fielded by Lauren O'Neil who looked to throw to third base but held onto the ball. The Scarlets had the same situation Faribault had in the bottom of the 13th. Bases loaded and no outs.
Top of the order came up. Armbruster struck out Mueller and fell behind Schopper. She had no base to put her so challenged her and the freshman came through with a two RBI double. Faribault went up and down in order in the bottom of the 14th putting an end to a fantastic fastpitch game between top ranked Mankato West and #2 rated Faribault.
The defending State Champion Falcons and West a title holder two years ago.
The Scarlets entered tonight's game with double digit runs scored in every game this season.
Coach Silber told POWER 96 after the game his team will work very hard on being able to score when they get lead batters in an inning on base. I had Faribault with 3 errors in the game. Mankato West had no errors.
Our Faribault State Farm Insurance agents Faribault players of the game were Armbruster, Van Ryn and Lake. Thanks to Tony Langerud and Jason Krohn for the player of the game feature.