Northern Freeze tied the game in the seventh down to their last out and went on to win in nine innings.
Last time these two squads met, it ended in a dramatic win for Crookston in extra innings. Second time out, Northern Freeze spelled revenge and took the contest 7-6 in nine innings after a late comeback.
To even be in a position to win it, Northern Freeze (5-11, 3-6 Section 8A), the away team in this game played in Thief River Falls, needed to overcome trailing 5-3 in the seventh inning down to their final out with nobody on base.
Pirates’ starting pitcher Jenna Coauette (Fr. RHP) retired the first two batters in the seventh on a ground out and a strike out, and the next two reached on singles to put the tying run at first.
The first game between these teams ended with the Pirates escaping a bases-loaded and one out situation on the road to earn a one-run victory. Unfortunately for Crookston (2-17, 0-11 Section 8AA), history would not repeat itself.
Brooke Glad (Fr. 2B) reached on an error to make it 5-4, Kylie Shetler (Jr. RF) hit a single to drive in Glad and Northern Freeze, back from the dead, had tied it the game 5-5.
“After today’s game, there were a lot more long faces than I typically see in a game where we lost by 10 runs,” Pirates Head Coach Robbe Nessler said. “After a game like today where you have it in hand, and you suddenly lose the last inning, I could definitely tell there was a much more somber mood among the girls, because they knew they had it. It’s a teachable moment and hopefully it’s something we can learn from.”
Crookston trailed 3-0 after two innings following an error, wild pitch and an RBI-double from Zoey Magner (So. LF/P). The Pirates benefited from an error in the fourth for their first run and took a 5-3 lead with four in the fifth.
Emma Boll (So. SS) scored on a wild pitch to start the fifth-inning rally, and Amber Cymbaluk (So. C) awarded Crookston their first lead of the night with a two-RBI single to bring home Ashlyn Genereux (Jr. RF) and Coauette. Jasmin Hanson (Jr. CF) scored on another wild pitch to put the Pirates ahead 5-3.
“The way [Amber] has been swinging, I had a good feeling about her at-bat there especially with girls on base,” Nessler said. “She’s just been swinging a hot bat.”
The Pirates had a chance to walk it off after Northern Freeze tied the game, and the bottom of the inning began promisingly as Coauette reached on a hit-by-pitch. Eylie Homme (So. P), who started the game for Northern Freeze, recovered and set down the next three Pirates in order to move the game into extras.
Homme did not qualify for the win as she was relieved by Magner in the eighth, but the sophomore managed to rack up 11 strikeouts and allowed only two hits.
Coauette went the distance for Crookston, struck out eight and allowed seven runs, three earned.
“Jenna threw a great game,” Nessler said. “She never seemed to be running out of gas. I even asked her after that eighth inning how she’s feeling. She’s a good athlete, and I think she could’ve gone two to three more innings.”
Marissa Nelson (Sr. C) drew a bases-loaded walk in the eighth, and Northern Freeze led 6-5, their first lead since the fifth inning.
A single and a sac-bunt attempt that resulted in an error put Pirates at second and third with nobody out in the bottom half of the eighth. Sophia Steiner (Jr. LF) scored on a wild pitch to tie at 6-6, Kenze Epema (So. 1B) advanced to third and the Pirates sat 60 feet away from a win.
The next batter, Boll, hit a ball to short, and Keylee Dahl (Jr. SS) fired home to nab Epema, who represented the game-winning run, and kept the game tied.
“I told [Kenze] if there’s a ground ball in the infield, you’re going,” Nessler said. “I wanted to be aggressive and win the game. The shortstop made a nice throw to the catcher, and it was a bang-bang play. That kind of ended our threat there.”
In the ninth, Glad found herself in the action again with an RBI groundout which plated Northern Freeze’s second go-ahead run in as many innings. Magner set down the Pirates in order, and Northern Freeze could finally celebrate their come-from-behind victory.
“We felt we had the game in hand because of the way Jenna was pitching and the way we were playing defensively,” Nessler said. “I told the girls they know as well as I do, we have had a tendency to just take our minds out of the game, so we got to stay focused, and we ended up having a couple errors in that [seventh] inning where we gave them runs.”
With the regular season at its end, the Pirates will play in the first round of the Section 8AA Tournament on Tuesday, May 21 at 5 p.m.
After the game, Hanson an All-Conference award, and Coauette earned Honorable Mention.
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