Bombs away, Barnum softball still alive in Section 5AIn the postseason, some teams win games with their light-outs pitching or their lock-down defense. Tuesday, Barnum used wind-aided home runs – nearly half a dozen of them.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
In the postseason, some teams win games with their light-outs pitching or their lock-down defense. Tuesday, Barnum used wind-aided home runs – nearly half a dozen of them.
With blustery winds blowing out, the Bombers blasted five dingers to defeat Upsala 13-3 in five innings and Isle 15-5 in six innings in the Section 5A Final Four in St. Cloud, Minn.
With the pair of elimination-deciding wins, Barnum’s heavy sluggers will now clash with unbeaten and seventh state-ranked Osakis for the Section 5A championship Thursday at 5 p.m. in St. Cloud.
“We had our bats,” said Barnum Coach Sarah Yrjanson. “Our girls were so aggressive at the plate and didn’t miss a beat. We just spanked them, it was absolutely unbelievable.”
Barnum began Tuesday’s loser’s bracket by defeating Upsala in a game where they smacked out 10 hits, including a pair of home runs from junior Allainie Hanek-Siltanen and freshman Kerra Rowell.
The Bombers, now 14-5, had a substantial lead early on against Upsala, then they broke it open in the fifth with nine runs to end things early.
“We played so well,” said Yrjanson. “I felt like a little kid, it was so exciting! The girls did a great job.”
Then the Bombers did it again, pounding Isle by 10 runs in six innings. Barnum had 15 hits against the Huskies – a team they lost to 6-5 last Thursday in extra innings – including three more blasts over the fence.
Hanek-Siltanen added another to her tally, while senior captain Jenna Shanda belted out two, which included five runs batted in.
According to Shanda, she’s hit four over-the-fence homers since starting her softball career back in seventh grade.
“I hit two in the summer, too,” said the first basemen.
Fellow senior captain Emily Thomsen didn’t hit a homer Tuesday, but said she sure had fun watching them sail over the fence.
“It definitely got our hearts pumping,” she said. “We were a little nervous at first, but once we starting hitting the ball around, we starting having fun. Hitting those home runs made things pretty enjoyable.”
On the day, Barnum’s five homers accounted for 13 of their 28 runs.
That, in turn, made things pretty easy for Yrjanson.
“If only we could do that every game,” she laughed. “That was the first time as a head coach where I got to watch the ball go over the fence. I felt like part of the team. I was as happy as they were.”
“We just showed everyone what we’ve got,” added Thomsen. “It was pretty remarkable how we played. We came together as a team.”
Although the Bombers’ home-run spurt was the highlight of the day, Barnum locked up defensively and freshman pitcher Lauren Hultgren won two more games in the circle, striking out 11 on the day.
“I don’t think our defense made an error, maybe a couple,” Yrjanson said. “And the girls never trailed all day.”
“Our defense was on,” Shanda added. “I think we played perfect.”
The Bombers will have to play nearly perfect again if they want to compete with Osakis Thursday. The Silverstreaks are 22-0 and have rarely been challenged this spring.
But the Bombers aren’t afraid. They’re the defending champs.
“We’ll be a little nervous in the beginning, but once we get going, we’ll play our game,” said centerfielder Thomsen. “We’re pretty excited. We know we have to give it the best we got.”
Like Thomsen, Shanda was a part of last season’s state tournament team, and wants to go back.
“It’d be amazing,” she said. “We have a whole new team.”
According to their first-year coach, it’s a team that can go the distance come Thursday evening.
“We’re going to have to bring our A game, because they [Osakis] haven’t lost all year,” she said. “But nowadays, records don’t mean anything. It’s all about how you play that day. And if we play like we did Tuesday, we’ll have a good chance.
“Do we have a shot? Absolutely,” continued Yrjanson. “These girls have state in mind.”