by Dave Pedersen
Sun PRESS Newspapers
Rockford’s batting power was diminished when managing seven hits combined in three state softball tournament games, but it was good enough to bring home the fourth place trophy.
The Rockets opened the Class AA tourney in North Mankato last Thursday with a 2-0 victory over Fergus Falls. New Ulm won the semifinal game 10-4 Thursday, causing some Rocket seniors to be late for graduation that night. Hermantown won the third place game 4-0 Friday.
“We had a great season and the girls played tough all year long,” said coach Dawn Engebretson. “We had different players step up and every player always kept fighting. At state, the girls may have tried to do too much to make things happen.”
Bria Majeski, a ninth-grader, pitched the shutout win over Fergus Falls, allowing four hits to go with six strikeouts and no walks. Rockford got all three hits and both runs in the first inning. Senior Ashley Dick drove in one run with a triple after Hannah Carlson, a ninth-grader, had singled. Senior Katelynn Pedersen singled to drive home the second run.
New Ulm had just one less loss than Rockford, but seven more wins, having fewer games postponed. Bria Majeski returned to the mound and ran into a hot-hitting New Ulm team that produced nine runs on 10 hits in 4.2 innings of work. Sister Lexi Majeski allowed one hit and one run in 1.1 innings of relief.
Junior catcher Megan Body drove in the first Rocket run in the fifth inning on a single. Rockford did not go down without a fight, scoring three runs in the seventh. Sophomore Brianna Calder singled home one run and Dick drove in two runs on a single.
“Against New Ulm, players may have been a extra anxious, worried about getting the two games in before running back for graduation,” adds Engebretson, who is in her 16th season as head coach and was named Section 5AA coach of the year.
Hermantown, not only also played more games to be 23-3, but the coach had led 19 teams to state and some players were involved in their fourth state tournament. Rockford had not been to state in 23 years.
All-Star pitcher Katie Thun from Hermantown allowed just one hit and struck out 12 batters. She also hit a key 3-run homer in the third. Lexi Majeski pitched for the Rockets, yielding nine hits. Bria Majeski got the lone Rockford hit.
After the tournament, Bria Majeski said the team plans to come back to state. Along with five seniors, Rockford had five ninth-graders, four juniors and two sophomores on varsity. Bria was a ninth-grader starting two state tourney games the same day.
“I tried to think of it as just another tournament,” adds Bria. “The big difference was the big chance of speeds by the pitchers, something we were not used to facing.”
Bria said she enjoyed playing alongside her older sister, who she calls her best friend. Calder adds, “We are all sisters and we created a big family.”
Named to the All-State second team, Calder said the seniors were a big part of the team, especially stepping up in the playoffs. The shortstop said the seniors will be a big loss, but the junior varsity won the conference title and help is on the way.
Dick was named to the All-State Tournament team and played in the state All-Star series Sunday. Bria Majeski was named All-State Honorable Mention.
The state tournament roster included seniors Amanda Thingvold and Madison Read; juniors Courtney Schmidt, Kaylee Schumacher and Megan Westrup; sophomore McKenzy Balanger and ninth-graders Anya Cady and sisters Caitlin and Allison McNeal/ Amy Sarne and Teresa Campbell are the assistant coaches.
Contact Dave Pedersen at [email protected]