It was like deja vu all over again as the Elk Mound and Colfax softball teams met in the regional championship finals with the same results. Last year the Mounders took a 5-2 win and after holding a slim 3-2 lead in the fourth inning this time, they used their experience and aggressive baserunning to pick up an 8-2 win over the Vikings.
Before either team could reach this game, they had to face tough tests with the Mounders beating Prescott 10-0 and Colfax defeating Boyceville 5-2.
“We took advantage of some of their mistakes and our pitcher (Dayna Kotecki) was really on her game today,” Elk Mound coach Kari Kallio said. “Those were the keys to us winning.”
Truer words were never spoken as Kotecki scattered three hits, struck out seven Vikings and showed great control as she did not issue a free pass in the seven innings. She began her afternoon by striking out the side in the first inning. After Maddy Polden drew a lead off walk for the Mounders, Kaysi Meindel moved her up on a ground out, Becca Kopp singled and an infield error gave the Mounders a 1-0 lead. A passed ball and another ground out put the score at 3-0 before a pop up ended the inning.
Colfax took advantage of a Mounder throwing error in the second inning and Kori Buchanan knocked Emily Tuschl in with a double to close the gap. Elk Mound put a pair of runners on base in the second but left them stranded. Kotecki struck out two more Vikings in the third for a 1-2-3- inning. After a two out walk in the bottom of the inning, Amanda Ward stole second before a deep fly ball to center, off the bat of Kylynn Simon, was flagged down by Colfax’s Karina Wait for the third out.
The Vikings got closer in the top of the fourth when Mallie Doucette led off with a single, moved up on a passed ball then came home on a base hit from Sam Simonson, who went to second on the throw home. Tuschl was hit by a pitch, but Kotecki came up with another K then forced a fly out and a ground out to leave both runners on base with her team up 3-2.
But this Mounder team is always just a play or two away from scoring runs and they showed it. Colfax pitcher Alexis Rudi struck Katie Johnson out but the ball was dropped and Johnson reached first on a throwing error. Lizzie Schreiber put down a bunt and was safe at first while Johnson went all the way to third on the play. Polden brought Johnson in on a ground ball to the shortstop and Meindel slapped a ball over second base for an RBI. A nifty 6-4-3 double play ended the inning however, when Doucette fielded the grounder, flipped it to Tuschl who gunned it to Simonson, the Mounders were now up 5-2.
“We really were not hitting the ball very well but we were aggressive on the bases and had to score any way we could,” Kallio said.
Kotecki seemed to be getting stronger as the game went on. She had another 1-2-3 inning and the Mounders just kept adding on as Kotecki slammed a double and her courtesy runner Mckenna Borofka came home on a base hit by Bergh. A couple of balls were misplayed in the Colfax infield allowing another run to score. Doucette stopped the bleeding for the Vikings with a diving stop on a ground ball and a flip to Tuschl to end the inning.
Colfax made contact with the ball all three times in the sixth but solid play by the Mounders defense kept them off the bases. Polden scored the final Elk Mound run in their half of the inning when she dropped a single over second, moved up on a passed ball and came in on a grounder by Kopp. A six run lead was too much for the Vikings to deal with and Kotecki put them down in order to end the game.
“I knew we would have to play great in all phases if we wanted to win and we didn’t do that,” Colfax coach Joe Doucette said. “Elk Mound is fundamentally solid and are well coached. The first inning has been a problem for us all year and giving up those three runs put us in a hole. They put the ball in play and put pressure on and capitalize on mistakes. They are better then us and we wish them luck as they move on,” he added.
Showing how strong their line up is, eight of the nine starters all had at least one hit with Polden and Bergh collecting two each with two RBIs. Four Mounders each brought a run in and Amanda Ward stole two bases.
Rudi took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits with one strikeout and two walks in five innings. Lakken Meredith finished the last two innings and gave up three runs on four hits. Colfax ended their season with a 9-10 record and graduate just one senior, Simonson.
Colfax 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 – 2
Elk Mound 3 0 0 2 2 1 – 8
Elk Mound – Prescott
After a pair of scoreless innings, Elk Mound broke through in the third when Polden sent a two out single to right and ended up scoring on Meindel’s slap hit to short center which got past the fielder. They added a second run in the fourth as Kotecki banged a leadoff double, advanced to third on a Bergh bunt and came home on a basehit by Ward.
The Cardinals had baserunners here and there during the game but Kotecki always managed to toughen up when needed and didn’t allow anybody to get off of first base. Meanwhile, the Mounders decided to take care of business quickly in the fifth inning. After a strikeout, Johnson banged a basehit, followed by a pop up for the second out. But the game requires three outs to end an inning and the Cardinals found out that the third out is sometimes the hardest to get, especially against a hard hitting team like Elk Mound. Meindel came up with another basehit up the middle, Kopp slammed a ball to right center and ended up on third base, bringing both runners home. Kotecki knocked Kopp in on a smash through the infield and Bergh sent a shot off the pitcher’s leg, allowing her to reach first. Ward came up with another hit and ended up on second on the throw to third and two more runs came across, making it 7-0. Simon continued the hitting barrage with a single to bring Ward in and the Mounders batted around with Eileen Vasey smacking a single as did Bergh to load up the bases. Polden made sure the game didn’t go any further as she drilled a ball to the outfield to bring the ninth and tenth run in to end the game in five innings.
Kotecki gave up just two hits with five strikeouts and one walk for the win. Polden, Kotecki, Meindel and Johnson all slammed two hits with Kopp, Polden and Simon all collecting a pair of RBIs.
Prescott 0 0 0 0 0 – 0
Elk Mound 0 0 1 1 8 – 10
A few web-gems on the defensive side and some late inning timely hitting by the Vikings gave them the win over the Bulldogs. After losing a double header to them earlier in the season, Colfax started off this game with a pair of runners reaching base in the first inning but stranded them. Boyceville returned the favor as they used a two out single and a walk by Colfax pitcher Rudi to put runners on second and third before Rudi fired a third strike past the Bulldog batter to get out of the jam.
The Vikings took the goose egg off the scoreboard in the second when Courtney Ottinger drew a two out walk, Equality Wilson was hit by a pitch and Meredith doubled to bring Ottinger home. The bases were left full however, after Rudi took a walk and the next Viking struck out.
Rudi walked the first Bulldog in the bottom of the inning but an alert Ottinger, the Colfax catcher, picked the runner off first. Rudi whiffed another batter, then walked one and struck out the next one, leaving another Bulldog on the basepaths. It was turning out to be a pitchers duel as both teams went out in order in the third and Colfax went down 1-2-3-in the top of the fourth.
Boyceville came up with a double from Brandi Curvello with one out in the bottom of the inning. After a pop up for the second out, Rudi couldn’t find her groove as she walked three batters with a passed ball in the middle to load the bases, then walked another one and gave up a basehit, allowing Boyceville to go ahead 2-1. It could have been worse but centerfielder Karina Wait fielded the ball and gunned it home to Rudi who covered the plate to tag a Bulldog out to end the inning.
Doucette and Simonson hit the ball hard in the fifth. Doucette’s fly ball went off the center fielder’s glove, putting her at second but Simonson’s line drive to right was snagged by their fielder for the third out.
The defense came through again in the bottom of the inning as Tuschl snared a line drive at second base. Meredith fielded a hard shot at third to throw a runner out. After a basehit by Boyceville, Ottinger snapped a throw to get the runner attempting to steal at second base.
The Colfax team have been known to be slow starters on the offensive side this year and this game was no exception. They managed to scrape across a couple of runs in the sixth by patiently drawing four straight walks off Bulldog pitcher Kennedy Hellmann to tie the game up. Rudi helped her cause as she singled in Buchanan with the go ahead run.
Boyceville put their lead runner on again in the bottom of the inning but the runner was called out for leaving the base early. Doucette bobble a hard grounder but stayed with it and nailed the runner at first. Tuschl made a diving stop on another ground ball and flipped the ball to first to nip the Bulldog for out number three.
Needing some insurance runs, Doucette fouled off seven or eight pitches before earning a walk to start the seventh. She flew around the bases on a solid slam from Simonson who ended up on second on a fielding error. Tuschl picked up an RBI with a basehit and Wait drew a walk. Buchanan surprised everyone by laying down a bunt and Boyceville threw to third too late and everyone was safe. With the bases loaded, a pop up around second base that was not caught resulted in two runners being called as the umpires chose not to call the infield fly rule. After Wilson drew another walk to reload the bases a strikeout ended the potential big inning with Colfax up 5-2.
There has to be a little drama in every game however, as Rudi, needing just three outs to seal the win, walked the first two Bulldogs before calming herself and forcing a ground out and two fly balls to end the game.
“This was our best defensive effort of the year,” coach Doucette said. “We made some great plays behind Rudi, and she bent but didn’t break and she came through when we needed her. It was a well played game other then the walks and the 4-5 good at bats we had was a key to the win.”
Colfax 0 1 0 0 0 2 2 – 5
Boyceville 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 – 2