Barnum Bombers tumble in finalsFirst-year coach Sarah Yrjanson took her Barnum softball team about as far as they could have gone this spring. Perhaps, even farther. Following the departure of longtime head coach Randy Myhre, as well as a number of key players on last spring’s state tournament team, many didn’t think the rookie head coach could copy last year’s success this spring.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
First-year coach Sarah Yrjanson took her Barnum softball team about as far as they could have gone this spring. Perhaps, even farther.
Following the departure of longtime head coach Randy Myhre, as well as a number of key players on last spring’s state tournament team, many didn’t think the rookie head coach could copy last year’s success this spring.
But last Thursday, the Bombers were, again, playing to go to state.
“A lot of people ask me how we did it,” Yrjanson said, “and really, I don’t have a good answer. All I can say is that these girls continuously picked each other up and worked so well together.”
Last week in St. Cloud however, unbeaten and heavily-favored Osakis defeated Barnum 6-1 for the Section 5A championship. From the opening pitch, Yrjanson knew her Bombers were in for a fight.
“Osakis basically out-played us,” she said. “They were solid and jumped on us right away. They were the better team.”
The Silverstreaks have posted a picture-perfect 23-0 record on the diamond this spring and are ranked seventh in the state in Class A.
Basically, they’re the real deal.
“I can’t remember exactly, but we made some errors early on that cost us and we never had the lead,” Yrjanson recalled. “But, that’s just how it goes sometimes. I’m happy for Osakis. They worked well together and are tough. They deserve to go to state.”
Barnum junior catcher Karianna Duesler agreed with her coach.
“They were good,” she said of Osakis. “They hit the ball hard and played good defense. We played well, but that’s just how it turned out.”
Despite many non-believers this season, Barnum continued to impress by pounding on teams and, at times, finding ways to win the close ones. Never was that more evident than in their postseason run where they won four games and played for the whole kit-and-caboodle.
“I was so proud of the girls, especially at the end of the season,” said Yrjanson. “All of these girls have great work ethic and come to work hard every day, both on the field and in the classroom. They really all understood each other.”
Having been an assistant coach for the Bombers three years previous to last season, the players felt the same about their coach stepping in this year.
“I’ve known her for a long time,” said senior captain Jessica Newman. “She’s awesome. We learned a lot from her.”
Newman will play basketball at the University of Minnesota Duluth next winter, but said her final spring of softball was one that began a little foggy, yet quickly transformed.
“We didn’t really know what to expect at first and knew it was going to be a struggle,” Newman said. “We set small goals first and worked on the little stuff from there. We played the game with passion and started to click. It was a lot of fun. I’m so grateful. We had a great year.”
Duesler agreed with her teammate.
“We had a really good season,” she said confidently. “I’m really proud of how far we went and where we got.”
Being a catcher, Duesler was continuously aided by Yrjanson – a former catcher for Cloquet – on proper form and technique behind the plate.
But it was Yrjanson that credited her players for making it enjoyable for her to come to work every day.
“These girls are just awesome,” she said. “Things were new for me, but these girls really made it fun. I enjoyed coaching way more than I thought.”
As for her return, well, that’s a no-brainer.
“I sure plan on it,” Yrjanson said.
“I’m really looking forward to our younger girls stepping up next year, I’m very optimistic,” she said. “I’ve been very fortunate stepping in here and I’ve gotten a lot of community support as well. And just being able to watch these girls smile has made it all worthwhile for me.”
You can bet her girls feel the same.