Polars remain undefeated this spring
North 6 - Hill-Murray 2
On a cold, wet, wind-whipped Wednesday, the Hill-Murray Pioneers traveled to North High for a softball game.
April 23 was a day better suited for the ducks and geese that occasionally flew across the sodden skies above the McKnight Field complex, than it was for a softball game between two undefeated powerhouses.
Despite the weather, the players withstood the elements and finished the game, and when it was over, it was North that remained undefeated with a 6-4 triumph. The win boosted the Polars’ record to 5-0, while the Pioneers dropped to 3-1.
Following the game, first-year Hill-Murray coach Don Kealy said, “We left too many runners (eight) on the bases. We hit the ball and played well enough in the field. When our pitcher got hit with that ball, that play basically gave them two runs.
“They hit the ball well, but we made most of the plays. Despite the conditions, it was a good game,” Kealy said.
The play he referred to came in the bottom of the fourth. A hard smash off the bat of senior Carli Langevin caromed off the ankle of relief pitcher Hannah Schmidt, The ball rolled between first base and the mound. Schmidt hobbled to the ball and threw over the head of first baseman Jessica Bonfe.
The game was tied at 1-1 when the play occurred. North went on to score three runs in the inning and took the lead for good.
Schmidt came out of the game and X-rays later showed no fractures, and Kealy said, “She is expected to be OK.”
From the North perspective, coach Cliff Charpentier said, “In spite of the lousy weather, I thought we played well.
He said pitcher Haley Schanks, a senior, “threw well” and finished with seven strikeouts. “With the weather conditions, she had a few problems with control at times, but overall she had a good game.
Charpentier continued, “Our defense made the plays when they had to. (Carli) Langevin has been just crushing the ball lately. It was a good win for us today.”
Langevin, also a senior, went 3-for-3 in the game, with a double, single and a two-run homerun. She scored three times and had three RBI.
Hill-Murray scored first when Nicole Thompson led off the game with a shot through the left-side hole. She stole second base and went to third on a wild pitch. A high, windblown fly to right field by Megan Toninato fell in and Thompson came home for the 1-0 tally.
In their half of the second, the Polars knotted the score when back-to-back doubles by Carli Langevin and Ali Knutson put Langevin across the plate.
Then came the crucial play in the last of the fourth. North’s Julia Tanzer led off with a single into left centerfield, and Carli Langevin cracked a line shot off the lower shin of Schmidt. Tanzer scored and Langevin ended up on second. Ali Knutson put a bunt on the ground and went to second on an infield error. Kayla Koemptgen banged a single to left to score Langevin. Then Lily Langevin followed with a single to plate Knutson, and the Polars had a 4-1 margin.
In the top of the fifth, Kennedy Houge banged a one-out single into left. She moved to second when Jessica Bonfe was thumped by a pitch. Katie Johnson then delivered a shot up the middle and when Houge scored, the Pioneers narrowed the North lead to 4-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, Schanks led off with a shot down the third-base line, and Abby Glaus went in as a pinch runner. Two outs later Carli Langevin sent a 224-foot, two-run shot over the left-field fence and the Polars posted the final score, 6-2.
Next Hill-Murray is scheduled to take on Tartan April 30 at home. The Pioneers then travel to Mahtomedi May 1 and host Simley May 5.
The North schedule includes home games against Simley April 30 and Henry Sibley May 1, before traveling to Lakeville North to participate in a tournament May 2-3.
Except for the tournament play, all Classic Suburban Conference games are 4:15 scheduled starts.
Wally Wakefield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .