By STUART GROSKREUTZ
NORTH ST. PAUL – Hannah Heacox outlasted Augustana recruit Carley Pickett after giving up a run in the first inning as Stillwater sent the Polars into the losers bracket with a 2-1 victory in the semifinals of the Section 4AAA softball tournament on Friday at McKnight Fields.
Heacox issued two walks in the first inning, but catcher Carlie Hart helped limit the damage after throwing out lead-off batter Jamie Fleischacker trying to steal second. That proved important after Jamie Rubbelke delivered a two-out triple to score Pickett, who reached on a walk.
"(Heacox) got a little pumped up early in the game and was maybe overthrowing a little bit and maybe that created the walks in the first inning," Beedle said. "She didn’t get into a lot of trouble after that. Other than the first, she pitched a very effective game and shut down a good team."
Pickett, meanwhile, kept the Ponies (15-7) scoreless until the fifth when they broke through for two runs to surge in front. Heacox walked to start the inning and Rachel Hartwig bunted her to second. Sidnee Ronsberg reached on an infield hit and both runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Emily Ramberg.
Dani Wigen then drove a hard grounder up the middle for a hit that was also misplayed by the shortstop to allow courtesy runner Katie Burton and Ronsberg to score the tying and go-ahead runs.
"Carley Pickett is one of the top metro pitchers and we knew if we were going to beat North it would be a low-scoring game," Beedle said. "Heacox threw the ball well, especially after the first, and we were lucky to get the ball to bounce our way there and score two."
Other than Hartwig’s bloop single with two outs in the second, the singles by Ronsberg and Wigen in the fifth were the only blemishes against Pickett, who did not walk a batter and finished with six strikeouts.
"If you would have asked if our first five hitters had gone hitless and we’d win, I would have said no way," Beedle said. "We were able to make the most out of very little and were able to sneak out of there with a win."
Stillwater0 0 0 0 2 0 0-230
N. St. Paul1 0 0 0 0 0 0-121
WP: Hannah Heacox 7-ip, 2-h, 1-r, 1-er, 5-bb, 8-so
LP: Carley Pickett 7-ip, 3-h, 2-r, 1-er, 0-bb, 6-so
Leading hitters: St, Rachel Hartwig 1×1, Sidnee Ronsberg 1×3 (run), Dani Wigen 1×2 (RBI); NSP, Jamie Rubbelke 1×2 (3B) and Jamie Fleischacker 1×2.