The Golden Eagles went 1-1 on the day with a 1-0 loss to the Beavers of Minot State and bounced back nicely with a 9-1 win over Black Hills State in their second and final game of the day.

MINOT, N.D.—A new era began Saturday afternoon in the western part of North Dakota for Minnesota Crookston softball. Head coach Travis Owen got his tenure as Golden Eagles head man started with a double-header in the Minot dome against Minot State and Black Hills State University.

    The Golden Eagles went 1-1 on the day with a 1-0 loss to the Beavers of Minot State and bounced back nicely with a 9-1 win over Black Hills State in their second and final game of the day.

    The Golden Eagles start the season out 1-1 with two more games against the same two teams’ tomorrow morning.

    In the first game against the Beavers, it turned out to be a pitcher’s duel the whole game.

    Paige Pitlick(Jr., P/1st, Jordan, Minn.) got the start for the Golden Eagles and was outstanding in the circle. Pitlick went all 7 innings while giving up just three hits, while walking three and striking out one. Pitlick got her outs in a variety of ways, by getting nine outs via the fly out and eight outs via the ground out. Pitlick got the loss on the day.

    Unfortunately for the Golden Eagles, Laura Mendez was just as good for the Beavers. Much like Pitlick, Mendez went all seven innings, while striking out two and walking two. Mendez earned the win with her outstanding performance in the circle.

    The game would be tied heading into the top of seventh, but the Beavers put the pressure on. After Pitlick retired the first Beaver hitter, Rianna Hassan singled to center and then moved up a base after a Golden Eagle error. After a Jamie Odlum sacrifice, Maggie Mercer drove in the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly. That run turned out to be enough for the Beavers who held serve in the bottom of the seventh by retiring the Golden Eagles 1-2-3.

    Offensively, the Golden Eagles were led by their number three and four hitters. Rocky Bjorge (Sr., 1st/3rd, Prior Lake, Minn.) and Malia Pula (Jr., UT, Gilroy, Calif.) each had one hit on the day.

    In the second game of the day against the Yellow Jackets of Black Hills State, the Golden Eagles came out swinging, literally.

    The Golden Eagles, who were the visitors on the scoreboard, put up a crooked number in the top of the first. Pula left off exactly where she started, driving in Sam Proctor (Jr., C, Champlin, Minn.) on a single to left. Minnesota Crookston would load the bases and score two more runs to lead 3-0 before Black Hills State even came up to bat.

    After keeping the Yellow Jackets off the board, the Golden Eagles would add on another run on a Mikaela Rodriguez (Jr., SS, Laveen, Ariz.) homerun to deep right field.

    Rodriguez would come up in the top of the sixth inning with the Golden Eagles leading 5-1 and say “Ok, one is great, but I feel like hitting two,” and that’s exactly what she did by hitting this homerun to her pull side for two RBI’s to extend the lead to 7-1.

    Minnesota Crookston would add two more run in the top of the seventh to beat Black Hill State 9-1.

    In the circle, Taylor Graven (So., P, Greene, Iowa) got the start and pitched a complete game allowing nine hits, while striking out three. Graven earned the win, her first on the young season.

    Offensively, the Golden Eagles were led by Rodriguez who reached base all four times, with three hits, two of which being homeruns, one walk and scoring three runs. Pula and Bjorge also had multi-hit games, each collecting two hits.

    Minnesota Crookston scored nine runs on 12 hits, while leaving just five on base.

    First year head coach likes what he saw from his team on opening day.

    “Overall on the day I was proud of how we bounced back in game two and made adjustments after the Minot State game,” said Owen. “Our pitching and defense was solid enough for a sweep but we learned from the first game and got it done in the second game.”

    Owen looks forward to seeing how his team battles tomorrow morning.

    “We will look forward to continuing to adjust and improve tomorrow morning,” Owen continued. “We need to trust our approach at the plate and if we do, we can score a lot of runs.”

    With the split on the day, Minnesota Crookston moves to 1-1 on the season. The Beavers improve to 3-2 on the season, while Black Hills State falls to 0-2.

    Minnesota Crookston will play these same two teams tomorrow morning, starting with the Beavers at 11 a.m., and the Yellow Jackets at 1 p.m.