Home field advantage is one thing but when it's the only playable field in northwest Minnesota it's a huge advantage.
Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdahl has been receiving a lot of media attention for being able to play six games on its home field in Twin Valley.
Their sixth game was Monday against Crookston as Norman County East/U-H beat the Pirates 14-4 in five innings.
Pirate co-head coach Chad Hitchen was worried about not being able practice outside before the team's first game.
"The toughest part, and I was scared and worried of this, was practicing indoors and going out and playing a game," Hitchen said. "It showed in our fielding with seven errors. Every error they had gave them a second chance and they scored on those."
Norman County East/U-H jumped out to a 4-1 lead after the first inning and led 6-1 before scoring seven in the fourth inning.
Junior Carly Welter was 2-for-3 at the plate with a double, a home run and an RBI. Senior Kaylee Desrosier was 2-for-3 with two RBI, while junior Lizzy Awender finished 2-for-3 with an RBI.
"Our batting was OK," said Hitchen. "Kaylee Desrosier has been an offensive leader for the last four years. Carly Welter had an inside the park home run and a double. Our 3-4-5 batters all got the six hits. We need to be a little more disciplined at the plate."
Ciara Grant led Norman County East/U-H with two hits, including a triple, and a run scored. Madelyn Sather was 2-for-2 at the plate with two walks and two runs scored.
Rana Opsahl got the win pitching for NCE/U-H, going all five innings and allowing four runs on six hits and three walks. She struck out five.
Sophomore Danica Brekken pitched four innings for the Pirates, allowing 13 runs on nine hits and four walks. She struck out four. Senior Caitlyn Cournia faced two batters and allowed a run on a hit.
"Our control is better, speed is the same," Hitchen said of the pitching. "We need to do more work with exploding off the mound. We pitched fairly well for the first two and a half innings. They got our timing down and started teeing off of us. Those rocket shots off the bat makes it tough for the defense. Pitching is still a major key to the game and our defense.
"We were slow, non-aggressive, not hitting cutoffs and not catching the ball," Hitchen continued. "We need to knock grounders down and not shy away from them. Maybe that's because the hops are consistent on the turf."
Hitchen went on to say it has been frustrating for everyone not being able to get outside.
Page 2 of 2 - "It's frustrating because we have not been outside yet," he said. "We weren't ready. All I can see with this team is we're going to get better. The pitching is ahead of the game from last year."
The Pirates are scheduled to host three games before the end of April, including today against Moorhead, but Donnie Lauf Field is not ready to play on.
"I don't think there will be anything this week," Hitchen said. "Our field isn't too far away. Maybe I'm being optimistic but I hope we can get outside for some practices pretty soon. We need to forget about this indoor stuff. Norman County East extended an invitation to play on their field when they're not. Ada and Sacred Heart are also close to being ready. We are a month away from tournament time and we have one game in."
1 2 3 4 5 R H E
Crookston 1 0 0 1 2 4 6 7
NCE/U-H 4 1 1 7 1 14 10 0