Softball: Elks tip Brainerd again, but fall to Big Lake, again, in 8AAA finals
Elk River’s bid for a state tournament trip was foiled by close neighbor Big Lake on Wednesday evening.
The Hornets, with two chances to beat the Elks once in the 8AAA finals, got the job done with a 6-4 conquest at Brainerd.
The Elks, who ousted top-seeded Brainerd 3-2 earlier in the day, trailed the Hornets 6-1 after six innings. They put three on the board in the seventh but the rally fell short.
The Elks, seeded fifth, ended with a 14-12 record including 4-2 in sectionals with two wins over Brainerd.
Big Lake, seeded third, takes a 14-7 mark to the state tournament. Led by freshman pitcher and leadoff batter Jaiden Lund, they also beat the Elks 2-1 on Monday, and finished 5-0 in the sectional.
Elk pitcher Anna Pipenhagen, showing some strain from pitching four playoff complete games in three days, was nicked for 13 hits and six earned runs in six innings. She walked three and struck out five.
Sam Kuhlow slugged two doubles and knocked in three runs for Big Lake. Oashaja Dohie was 3-for-4 with an RBI, Alexis Lund 2-for-4 with two RBI, and Jaiden Lund 2-for-3 with two runs.
The Elks got 10 hits and three walks off Lund, who struck out three.
Jayme Langebehn was 3-for-4 with a run for the Elks. Pipenhagen 2-for-3. Jess Neuman, Michaela Bruns and Ali Krohn each had a hit and an RBI.
Bruns had a double in each game Wednesday, and finished the sectionals 12-for-21 with a homer, eight doubles and 10 RBI. She led the team with a .453 batting average and .618 slugging average for the year.
Elks oust Brainerd 3-2
The fifth-seeded Elks (14-11) must beat Big Lake (12-6) twice to capture the title because they lost to the Hornets 2-1 on Monday. The Elks and Hornets were to duel at 6 p.m. Wednesday and if the Elks win, the final game would be Thursday at 5 p.m.
Pipenhagen tossed a three-hitter with three walks and five strikeouts. The sophomore righthander has pitched each every inning of the playoffs with the Elks going 4-1 including a 5-0 win over Brainerd on Monday.
Brainerd finished 20-3, with two of the losses to the Elks.
Brainerd senior lefty Nikki Anderson held the Elks to five hits and walked none, striking out eight.
The Elk runs scored on a wild pitch, on an error, and on a ground out with Courtney Jensen getting the RBI. Scoring runs after getting aboard via hits were Dani Edwards, Bethani Athey and Jayme Langebehn.
The Eks led 3-0 before Nikki DeCaine doubled home a run for Brainerd with two outs in the sixth. The Warriors scored again in the seventh on an RBI single by Mikaela Chandler and then loaded the bases with two outs but Pipenhagen got her mound rival Anderson on a pop-up to end the game.
Key defensive plays were Pipenhagen snagging a line drive back up the middle and centerfielder Langebehn making a sliding catch of a sinking fly ball.