NORTH MANKATO — The Ponies had little time to dwell on their quarterfinal setback in Thursday’s Class AAA state tournament and Bloomington Jefferson showed no mercy on the defending champions while pulling out a 3-2 victory in the consolation semifinals.
The Jaguars (16-6), who will face Orono in the consolation finals on Friday, scored three times in the bottom of the first inning and University of Minnesota recruit Hannah Evavold made it stand up while striking out 10 in the complete game.
Stillwater jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a two-out rally in the top of the first. Rachel Hartwig singled, Hannah Heacox doubled and Rachel Rhode drew a walk to load the bases before a wild pitch allowed Hartwig to scamper home for a run.
“I think that helped get us back into playing softball,” Ponies coach Bob Beedle said, nothing the short turnaround after losing in the quarterfinals to start the day.
Evavold notched a strikeout to work out of additional trouble in the first and also contributed for the Jaguars with her bat in the bottom of the inning. Carroll Karmann and Emily Carr each singled to start the inning before Krista Flugstad delivered a one-out RBI single to tie the game. Then with two outs, Evavold doubled to right-center to push two more runs across for a 3-1 lead.
“She’s a great hitter and she was really up to the challenge and pitched exceptional against us,” Beedle said. “They’re a great hitting team. My scouting report was that Bloomington Jefferson was the second best hitting team in the field — the best was the team we played in the first round.”
The Ponies trimmed the deficit to 3-2 with a run in the sixth. Hartwig, who finished with three of Stillwater’s six hits in the game, doubled to left and Rhode delivered a two-out base hit to score courtesy runner Emma Germundson after she stole third base.
Jordan Rastall drew a one-out, pinch-hit walk for the Ponies in the seventh, but Evavold struck outthe final two batters to seal the victory.
“We tried to regain our composure and make the best of the trip down there, but it’s disappointing when you lose in the winners bracket,” Beedle said. “You still want to make sure you give a good performance overall and we did that. I’m just really pleased with the way the kids played.”
Heacox, who has inspired many with her perseverance during a season that included the passing of her father last month, allowed nine hits and two walks with 10 strikeouts in her final prep game. The senior will compete in Sunday’s all-state softball series back at Caswell Park.
“Hannah Heacox was really exemplary in the eway she perservered through her family tragedy and that helped solifify the team behind her and became a real learning experience for our team about putting softball in perspective of being a game,” Beedle said. “In that sense, there were some great life lessons that we learned on top of a well-performed season. In a day or two, maybe longer, they’ll step back and look back at it and they’ll realize that over the last two seasons they had some pretty special times and they’ll be able to revisit those.”
Stillwater 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 — 2 6 0
B. Jefferson 3 0 0 0 0 0 x — 3 9 0
WP: Hannah Evavold 7-ip, 6-h, 2-r, 2-er, 2-bb, 10-so
LP: Hannah Heacox 6-ip, 9-h, 3-r, 3-er, 2-bb, 10-so
Leading hitters: St, Carlie Hart 1×4, Rachel Hartwig 3×3 (2B), Hannah Heacox 1×3 (2B) and Rachel Rhode 1×2 (RBI); BJ, Carroll Karmann 2×3 (2B), Emily Carr 1×2, Krista Flugstad 2×3 (RBI), Hannah Evavold 2×2 (2B, 2 RBI), Alex O’Connor 1×3 and Kate Deming 1×2.
Elk River 2, Orono 1
Forest Lake 3, Farmington 1
Maple Grove 2, Jefferson 1
Prior Lake 8, Stillwater 1 (8 inn.)
Elk River 9, Forest Lake 3
Prior Lake 5, Maple Grove 3
Orono 2, Farmington 0
Bloomington Jefferson 3, Stillwater 2
Consolation — Orono vs. Bloomington Jefferson, 9 a.m.
Third-place — Forest Lake vs. Maple Grove, 11 a.m.
Championship — Elk River vs. Prior Lake, 1 p.m.