Eskomos go 1-2 in Class AA
NORTH MANKATO, Minn. — In June 2017, when Esko met with Pipestone Area in the Class AA state softball quarterfinals, the Eskomos hit their way a convincing 4-0 win.
In last week's sequel, the Arrows had other plans.
Pipestone ace Shelby Bloemendaal carried a perfect game into the fifth inning, as the senior slung a two-hitter and struck out 12 in the Arrows' 4-1 victory over Esko on Thursday, June 7, at a spectator-engulfed Caswell Park.
The victory, in which they never trailed after scoring one run in the bottom of the first inning and three in the third, was a vindicating one for the Arrows — a team seeking payback.
"We definitely wanted to get our revenge," said Bloemendaal to the Duluth News Tribune following the win.
"The script kind of flipped," Arrows coach Troy Bouman added. Bouman owns 444 career victories, his latest when his Arrows took third place last Friday afternoon.
The Eskomos (23-6) meanwhile, which only got hits from Ashley Pollema and Kristy DeMuth against Pipestone, woke up the bats in the consolation round, scoring seven runs on nine hits and riding the right arm of standout pitcher Emilee Wilson in their 7-0 shutout over Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton.
For Wilson, it was her 60th career win, while the senior's five strikeouts only added to a dizzying total well in the 600s.
"I wouldn't trade my experience with Esko softball for anything," said Wilson, a member of the state All-Star series.
Pollema, also a senior, whacked a homer against the Rebels, her second fence-clearer in as many years at Caswell.
"I've loved every moment of this," said Pollema, who has enjoyed three consecutive trips to state since making the varsity as a freshman. "Softball has been a big part of my life for many, many years. I'll always remember everything."
On a rain-delayed Friday, June 8, the Eskomos lost to Winona Cotter 6-0, where Esko counted just one hit and 12 strikeouts.
"Honestly, for the last month, our bats have been really quiet," coach Huff Emanuel said. "We had to scrap and claw for everything we got, but we could have rolled over early in our section tournament and we didn't. They made it back.
"And it's not easy to get (to North Mankato)," Emanuel continued. "There are 126 teams in 2A softball. I'm proud."
Hence, one can excuse Emanuel when this was all over.
"I was emotional — they were special," he said of Wilson, Pollema and fellow seniors Davriana Horvath and Hannah Stark. All have been around for nearly the last half-decade.
"There are no words to say how they will be missed," Emanuel said. "They left a legacy of how softball should be played."