Chad Hitchen knows how to motivate his teams.
A few years ago he made a promise to shave his head if his wrestling team qualified a certain number of wrestlers for the state tournament. He went bald.
This year he made a promise to his softball team to not shave his beard until the team won a game. Today, he no longer looks like he belongs on Duck Dynasty.
The Pirate softball team avenged a 20-0 loss last season to Norman County and snapped a 19-game losing streak Friday in a thrilling comeback 9-7 win in Ada.
"They are all pretty excited," Pirate co-head coach Katie Welter said of Hitchen shaving his beard. "It wasn't a bet or anything like that. It was just something fun to do for their first win."
Crookston trailed 7-1 going into the seventh inning and posted eight runs, including a grand slam by senior McKaela Larson, her third homer of the week.
"For a change we were the team to come from behind," coach Welter said. "And another grand slam for McKaela. Earlier that inning Carly Welter said, 'why don't we just all get on base and McKaela will just hit it over the fence again.' Sure enough she hit it out to left with not too much help from the wind. She has some power behind that swing."
Sophomore Danica Brekken earned the win pitching for the Pirates. She allowed just one hit in her 1 2/3 innings of work. Sophomore Danelle Trandem started for Crookston and pitched five innings, allowing five runs on four hits and three walks. Senior Caitlyn Cournia recorded one out, allowing two runs on one hit and four walks.
Taylor Jorgenson allowed nine runs on 11 hits and two walks pitching for Norman County.
Larson finished 3-for-4 at the plate with the grand slam. Senior Taylor Demarais and junior Lizzy Awender each went 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Junior Carly Welter had a hit and two runs scored.
"Everybody contributed to the win on Friday," Welter said. "Everyone was on a game high afterwards. Coach Hitchen and I went through every player on the bus ride home and everyone contributed. We played all seven innings down to the end. It was nice to have everyone contribute. We were able to bunt and get around the bases with some quick runners. We tried some sacrifice bunts we hadn't tried a whole lot in the other four games."
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The Pirates, now 1-4 on the season, have a busy week of four games and a tournament. The team will face Red Lake Falls Tuesday on the road at 5 p.m. Then it will host Roseau Thursday in a doubleheader, beginning at 4 p.m., and Grand Forks Central Friday at 4:30 p.m. On Saturday the Pirates host a tournament with East Grand Forks, Mahnomen-Waubun and Barnesville.
Maybe next up for coach Hitchen is a tattoo like Louisville men's basketball coach Rick Pitino.
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