By Joey Hudson
The four-seeded Raiders hosted the visiting five-seed Lakeville North Panthers for the first game of the Section 1AAAA tournament Tuesday, May 23rd at Rock Fields. Senior Rylee Blandin started in the circle for the Raiders opposite of Panthers starter Nora Brandt.
The scoring started in the bottom of the first after Courtney Graff led off with a triple to left-center field and came around to score on a reached-on error by catcher Olivia Hohrman to give Northfield the early 1-0 lead.
Lakeville North responded in a big way with back-to-back singles to lead off the top of the second. The Panthers’ third baseman Ari Leosch, drove them home with a three-run home run to dead center to put Lakeville North up, 3-1. Blandin responded with two consecutive strikeouts and a weak pop-out to end the top half. Senior right fielder Ruby Holman led off the bottom of the second with a fly ball single to left field but was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice by Megan Snyder. Courtney Graff followed with a double to right field that moved Snyder to third and both runners scored on a Lucy Menssen base hit to center to tie the game, 3-3. Menssen advanced to second after Linsey Stanton reached on an error. Both runners advanced on a Leah Enedy base hit that dropped between the shortstop and centerfielder. With the bases loaded, Olivia Hohrman popped out to the Panthers’ first baseman Jordyn Vang who made a diving play to get the crucial out. Nora Brandt struck out Emily Broden to end the inning with the bases loaded.
After another Blandin strikeout to lead off the top of the third, Jeanson hit a triple over center fielder Courtney Graff’s head, which was followed by a hit-by-pitch on Brandt to put runners on the corners. Blandin was able to get out of the inning unscathed after striking out the next batter, and the following batter popped out to first baseman Jaimi Triplett.
In the top of the fourth Ari Loesch led off with a walk for the Panthers and was followed by a Vang double, putting runners on second and third. Both runners scored on a single by Maddy Orth to centerfield, Orth moved to third on the throw. Blandin was able to get the next batter to pop out to Jaimi Triplett to end the top half of the inning.
In the top of the fifth Brandt led off with a single to left and advanced to second on an error in left field. She came around to score on an error when Hannah Weckman singled to left and went to second on the same error. After another Raider error put Kaylee Collins on base, Blandin got the next three batters out to end the Panthers’ half of the inning.
The top of the sixth was led off by a single from Abby Straub on a hard-ground ball up the middle. Blandin got the next two batters via ground out and a pop out. However, Brandt doubled to left field scoring Straub and putting the Panthers up 7-3. Next up for the Panthers was Hannah Weckman who singled to right field, scoring Brandt’s courtesy runner from second, giving the Panthers an 8-3 lead. With two outs and a runner on first, Courtney Graff moved from centerfield to pitcher and struck out the first batter she faced to end the Panthers’ threat.
In the bottom of the sixth with one out Courtney Graff reached on an error by the Panthers first baseman, but the Raiders were unable to advance her at all as they went into the seventh down by five runs.
Graff struck out the first batter in the top of the seventh and then induced back-to-back groundouts to the middle infield.
With the Raiders’ last chance to score they were sat down 1-2-3 with a pop-out, a strikeout, and another pop-out with a final score of 8-3.
The Raiders will play again in Austin on Thursday against the eight-seeded Rochester John Marshall Rockets in round one of the Elimination Bracket. The game will start at 3:30 pm and you can catch all the action on NorthfieldLive.com.