So close to state for Tiger softball

RC closes stellar season in section title game

After clinching the Subsection 5A East championship two weeks ago with three consecutive wins over Hinckley-Finlayson, Braham and Isle, the Rush City softball girls headed into a three-game battle with the winners from the west, Browerville.

The Tigers faced Browerville in St. Cloud last Tuesday in what head coach Kim Erdman called a “thriller from start to finish.”

Rush City’s offense struck first when junior Hannah Pavek reached base on a single to right field with one out. Following a ground ball that advanced Pavek into scoring position at second base, sophomore Kelly Swenson ripped a two-out double to center field to score Pavek and put the Tigers up 1-0.

Browerville answered two innings later with a two-run shot to take the lead, 2-1.

They would keep the lead until the bottom of the seventh inning. Sophomore Lindsey Williams drew a walk, then moved to third base on a single by freshman Chesney Grant. Following a steal by Grant, who would be the winning run, at second base, sophomore Ashton Prachar sent an RBI sacrifice fly to center field to score Williams and tie the game at two. Grant advanced to third base on a passed ball, followed by a walk by junior Taniel Schellbach. With runners at the corners, sophomore Sydnie Sybrant ripped an RBI double to bring Grant across the plate for the winning run.

Schellbach led the offense with two hits, while Grant, Prachar, Sybrant, Pavek, sophomore Jenna Nelson and Swenson each recorded one hit.

Grant pitched a complete game, striking out nine batters, walking four and giving up six hits.

Unfortunately, the postseason winning streak ended there as the Tigers returned to St. Cloud on Thursday to face a vengeful Browerville squad again, who beat Eden Valley Watkins in the loser’s bracket to play Rush City again in the championship rounds.

Browerville needed to beat Rush City twice, and they did just that.

The two battled again, with Browerville putting the first points on the board in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead. The Tigers responded with two runs in the fourth inning and one in the fifth to even the score at three apiece. But Browerville earned the go-ahead run an inning later and notched four more runs in the seventh inning to win 8-3.

Grant pitched another seven innings. She struck out nine batters, walked five and gave up eight hits.

Browerville’s bats kept rolling into the second matchup. They tallied six runs in the first inning and maintained the 6-0 lead until Rush City put two on the board in the sixth inning when sophomore Miranda Anderson, who reached base on a single, came across home plate on a hard single by Prachar, which went between the legs of the right fielder. Prachar also scored on the play.

Both squads added to their total in the final 1.5 innings, but Browerville held on for the 9-3 win and Section 5A championship title.

Grant pitched six innings on the mound with seven strikeouts, five walks and allowing 11 hits.

Erdman said his girls fought hard, but Browerville was on their A-game.

“Today Browerville played better than us,” Erdman said. “We had some really hard-hit balls, but we hit right at them. We have to give them credit. Our girls had a great season and really came on strong at the end.”

The head coach added that his squad surpassed some outsider expectations on the year and he is excited for next season with his young team and the dedicated fans who fill the stands.

“We were in St. Cloud the previous two years but did not get to the championship game,” he said. “I think some teams thought we would be down this year after losing four very good seniors last year, including conference MVP pitcher MacKenzie Sherrill. The girls proved them wrong. All starters are back next year and we will have some girls competing for their positions, so that is a good thing. I cannot express what a great group of young ladies are on the team, both on and off the field.”

The Tigers went 11-6 overall and 6-4 in both the Great River Conference and section play.

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