Softball: Stillwater splits with Rangers, sweeps Hastings

Stillwater shortstop Natalie Gerber stretches for a ball that skips through for a hit during Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against Forest Lake.

Stillwater shortstop Natalie Gerber stretches for a ball that skips through for a hit during Game 1 of Saturday’s doubleheader against Forest Lake.

The Stillwater softball team kept its slim Suburban East Conference title hopes alive following Monday’s sweep of Hastings, but will need some help after splitting a conference twin bill with league-leader Forest Lake under blustery conditions on Saturday.

The Ponies (13-3 SEC, 13-3) close out their conference schedule with games against Mounds View on Wednesday and Thursday before hosting Totino-Grace in a nonconference match-up on Friday. After sweeping East Ridge in a doubleheader on Tuesday, Forest Lake (14-2, 14-2) can clinch the SEC title outright when it hosts Woodbury for two games on Thursday — capping a stretch of nine games in six days.

Stillwater first baseman Rachel Rhode fields a low throw during Game 1 of Saturday’s Suburban East Conference softball doubleheader against Forest Lake at Stillwater Area High School. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

Stillwater first baseman Rachel Rhode fields a low throw during Game 1 of Saturday’s Suburban East Conference softball doubleheader against Forest Lake at Stillwater Area High School. (Gazette staff photos by Stuart Groskreutz)

“We have to win both and we need help,” Stillwater coach Bob Beedle said.

 

Stillwater 4, Hastings 3

With No. 2 pitcher Rachel Rhode sideline with an arm injury, Hannah Heacox threw both ends of Stillwater’s doubleheader sweep of the Raiders on Monday. The senior did not allow an earned run while giving up four hits and one walk with eight strikeouts in Game 2.

The Raiders scored two unearned runs in the first, but Stillwater answered quickly with three runs in the bottom half and added another in the second for a 4-2 lead. Hastings added another unearned run in the fifth and threatened with the tying run on second with one out in the seventh before a game-saving catch and double play started by Allison Pasiuk in the seventh. With the potential tying run on second base, Pasiuk snared a line drive at first base and threw to second for the final out of the game.

“It was a big win,” Beedle said. “I was real proud of the kids because they knew these were big games and we went down there and did what we needed to do.”

Heacox improved to 8-2 on the season and has yielded just three earned runs in 71 1/3 innings for a paltry 0.29 ERA. She has also racked up 114 strikeouts — including 25 in Monday’s doubleheader — and opponents are batting just .138 against her.

 

Hastings 2 0 0 0 1 0 0 — 3 4 2

Stillwater 3 1 0 0 0 0 x — 4 8 4

 

WP: Hannah Heacox (8-2) 7-ip, 4-h, 3-r, 0-er, 1-bb, 8-so

LP: Mikayla Minnaert 6-ip, 8-h, 4-r, 2-er, 1-bb, 2-so

 

Leading hitters: St, Natalie Ingram 2×3, Heacox 1×3, Rachel Hartwig 1×3, Sidnee Ronsberg 1×3 (RBI), Natalie Gerber 2×3 and Carlie Hart 1×2.

 

Stillwater 4, Hastings 1

Heacox struck out 17 in Stillwater’s Game 1 victory over the Raiders on Monday.

Sidnee Ronsberg provided an RBI triple and scored on a squeeze bunt by Natalie Gerber in the second inning to provide all the run support the Ponies required. Sophomore Natalie Ingram belted her first varsity home run in the fourth and the Ponies tacked on another run after Sidnee Ronsberg tripled and scored on an error to build a four-run cushion.

“It was a pretty clean game for Heacox with 17 strikeouts,” Beedle said.

 

Stillwater 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 — 4 6 2

Hastings 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 — 1 5 3

 

WP: Hannah Heacox (7-2) 7-ip, 5-h, 1-r, 0-er, 3-bb, 17-so

LP: Meagan Friederichs 7-ip, 6-h, 4-r, 4-er, 2-bb, 3-so

 

Leading hitters: St, Heacox 1×4, Natalie Ingram 2×3 (HR, RBI), Sidnee Ronsberg 1×2 (3B, RBI), Natalie Gerber 1×1 (RBI) and Allison Pasiuk 1×3.

 

Forest Lake 12, Stillwater 2 (6 inn.)

Following a hard-fought victory in the opener, Stillwater faced adversity early in Game 2 of Saturday’s Suburban East Conference softball doubleheader at Stillwater Area High School. Starter Rachel Rhode suffered an arm injury that will likely prevent her from pitching the rest of the season and it put the Ponies in an early 6-0 hole against the high-powered Rangers.

“It didn’t go real good early,” Ponies coach Bob Beedle said.

It was the first loss of the season for Rhode (3-1), who left after facing two batters in Forest Lake’s five-run second inning. Rachel Hartwig finished the game for Stillwater.

The Rangers showed off a deep lineup as their six through nine hitters scored six of their 12 runs in the game.

“Splitting with them was OK,” Beedle said. “It put us within reach of them in the conference.”

 

Stillwater 0 0 0 1 0 1 — 2 5 5

Forest Lake 1 5 0 2 1 3 — 12 12 0

 

WP: Holly Osdick 6-ip, 5-h, 2-r, 2-er, 5-bb, 2-so

LP: Rachel Rhode (3-1) 1-ip, 2-h, 2-r, 2-er, 2-bb, 1-so

 

Leading hitters: St, Hannah Heacox 1×3, Rachel Hartwig 1×3, Natalie Ingram 1×1, Natalie Gerber 1×3 and Allison Pasiuk 1×2; FL, Taylor Shortly 2×4 and Chase Shortly 2×3.

 

Stillwater 5, Forest Lake 4

Windy conditions made every ball put in play an adventure during a back-and-forth opening game.

Stillwater jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning on a two-run single by Rachel Hartwig. Haley Balzart doubled to start the inning and Hannah Heacox followed with a base hit before coming around to score.

The Rangers scored three times in the fourth and added a run in the fifth to take a 4-2 lead, but the Ponies battled back to tie the game with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Stillwater loaded the bases after Hartwig reached on a fielder’s choice, Rachel Rhode walked and Sidnee Ronsberg singled. Natalie Ingram singled home Hartwig and Natalie Gerber plated the tying run with a sacrifice fly.

Then in the sixth, Hartwig lined a double to the fence in left field to score the game-winning run.

“The wind was real strong and it was cold, a rough day to have a match-up between two of the best teams in the conference,” Ponies coach Bob Beedle said.

Hannah Heacox allowed just one earned run on five hits and two walks with four strikeouts.

 

Forest Lake 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 — 4 5 1

Stillwater 0 0 2 0 2 1 x — 5 11 4

 

WP: Hannah Heacox (6-2) 7-ip, 5-h, 4-r, 1-er, 2-bb, 4-so

LP: Michelle LaCasse (6-1) 6-ip, 11-h, 5-r, 5-er, 4-bb, 4-so

 

Leading hitters: FL, Mikayla Watters 2×3; St, Haley Balzart 3×4, Heacox 2×4, Rachel Hartwig 2×4, Sidnee Ronsberg 1×3, Natalie Ingram 1×3, Natalie Gerber 1×2 and Lauren Jordan 1×2.

 

Stillwater 9, Cretin-Derham Hall 2

At St. Paul, the Ponies put on an impressive display of power while cruising to a 9-2 victory in Friday’s Suburban East Conference game at Cretin-Derham Hall.

Rachel Hartwig and Sidnee Ronsberg each deposited two runs to lead Stillwater’s 13-hit attack.

“I don’t remember having four home runs in a season, much less one game,” Ponies coach Bob Beedle said. “If we’re patient and selective on our pitches, we’re pretty good hitters.”

Hartwig now has four home runs this season while Ronsberg has launched three over the fence. Hartwig began the power surge with a solo blast in the second inning and Ronsberg added a three-run homer in the fourth as Stillwater built a 4-1 lead. Hartwig left the park again with a two-run homer in the fifth and Ronsberg completed her daily double with a solo home run to start the sixth.

Nine different players finished with at least one hit for the Ponies, who finished with 13 in all.

Heacox, meanwhile, held the Raiders to just one earned run on four hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts.

 

Stillwater 0 1 0 3 3 2 0 — 9 13 2

Cretin-Derham Hall 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 — 2 4 1

 

WP: Hannah Heacox 7-ip, 4-h, 2-r, 1-er, 2-bb, 11-so

LP: Emily Berthiaume 4 1/3-ip, 9-h, 6-r, 6-er, 0-bb, 1-so

 

Leading hitters: St, Rachel Hartwig 3×3 (2 HR, 3 RBI), Sidnee Ronsberg 2×4 (2 HR, 4 RBI), Natalie Ingram 2×3, Molly Frisch 1×1 (RBI), Rachel Rhode 1×3, Heacox 1×3, Jordan Rastall 1×1, Haley Balzart 1×2 (RBI) and Carlie Hart 1×4 (2B); C-DH, Dana Connelly 2×3.

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