In a game with a ton of offense, the Pirates came out on top for win number one.
The Pirates came into Tuesday’s contest looking for their first victory of the season. Nearly three hours and seven innings later, they walked off the field celebrating a 20-15 win over the Northern Freeze co-op on Crookston’s senior day.
“I can’t say that I expected that,” Head Coach Robbe Nessler said. “Looking at some of their scores and some of ours, both teams are struggling and I didn’t really know what to expect. It was a situation with a lot of walks and trying to find control in the game.”
Sophomore Jasmin Hanson went out to the circle to pitch the seventh inning in hopes to finish the game after coming in relief in the third inning. After the first two batters reached, Hanson forced three straight ground balls to clinch the victory.
“I was very nervous,” Hanson said. “I was really excited because we had not won before, but I was nervous at the same time. I had a little doubt, but I got my confidence back up.”
The Northern Freeze struck for five runs in the first and Crookston already faced a deficit before even swinging the bat.
Eighth grader Jenna Coauette started the game for Crookston after her impressive showing against Red Lake Falls the previous week. Coauette struggled to find the strike zone walking eight in two innings. Coauette only allowed one hit, but surrendered nine runs between walks, errors and wild pitches although only four were earned.
Crookston quickly recovered from the early deficit posting eight runs of their own in the bottom of the first. Five wild pitches and a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch brought in six runs for the Pirates while the other two came in on errors. Freshman 3B Emma Boll, Hanson, senior SS Jaeden Lizakowski, sophomore Allie Love, Coauette, senior LF Amy Follette, senior 2B Brelee Jobe, and freshman C Amber Cymbaluk all came in to score in the first.
The Freeze retaliated with two runs in the second and three in the third to reclaim the lead at 10-8.
Walks to Boll, Hanson and Lizakowski loaded the bases in the bottom of the third. One wild pitch scored Boll and then Hanson and Lizakowski both scored on the same wild pitch after the Northern Freeze catcher crashed into the fence chasing the ball. The Pirates could not add any more and led 11-10 after three innings.
With the inconsistent pitching, Nessler made a point to his players to wait for a good pitch, but admits he would have liked to see more swings.
“Around the fourth inning, I started to give our sign to take a pitch,” Nessler said. “But I never made a point to say we’re going to start taking pitches. At the end of the day, I appreciate the patience, but we got to swing that bat more often. But we’ll take the win.”
Northern Freeze kept the pressure on Crookston pitching and added four more runs in the fourth inning and led once again 14-11.
The Pirates collected their first RBIs’ of the game courtesy of singles from Cymbaluk and Hanson. Through four innings, Crookston only recorded four hits and trailed 14-13.
Hanson pitched the Pirates’ first clean inning of the game in the fifth inning striking out two and stranding a runner at first base.
“We know what Jasmin is going to bring to the table,” Nessler said. “She’s going to pitch to contact, she’s not going to blow it by people, but she’s not going to walk people. She came in, pitched solid and girls made plays behind her.”
Crookston knotted up the score in the bottom of the fifth at 14-14 when Coauette raced home on another wild pitch. Boll and Lizakowksi followed with bases-loaded walks to plate runs 15 and 16.
An error brought the Northern Freeze within one run, but Hanson worked out of a bases-loaded jam capped off by a nice force play by Lizakowski to get the runner at second base.
Sophomore RF Maddi Salentine brought in two runs to provide some insurance and later scored on a wild pitch as part of a four-run sixth inning for the Pirates.
Three outs away from Crookston’s first win, the Freeze’s first two batters reached on a single and a hit-by-pitch. The next three balls were all hit to sophomore Kasey Cwikla, who was moved to third. Cwikla flipped to Lizakowski covering third for out number one and stepped on the bag herself to put Crookston one out away. After the third ball was hit to Cwikla, she threw to first pulling Boll off the bag, but Boll applied the tag on the runner to end the game.
“We made things interesting,” Nessler said. “It seemed like every ball was hit to Kasey in that last inning. She heads over to third to get the out and tosses it to Jae which gave everyone a little heart attack, but she made the play. Then she made the second play where she just touched the bag for the out. Then she threw to first for the out. We made it interesting, but we found a way to make it to happen.”
The Pirates (1-15) celebrated their first win of the season much to the joy of Nessler who earned his first win as head coach.
“It’s been a tough season with wins and losses, but the girls have kept their heads up and stayed positive,” Nessler said. “That’s all you can do. You can’t hang your head because then you’re never going to win. It takes a little pressure off the shoulders for everyone. We’ll take it any way we can get it.”
The Pirates will play two more games before the postseason begins. The first will be against Red Lake County Central on Thursday, May 17 at home. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m.