Softball: Bad innings bury Tigers
With just three seniors and a handful of returning starters on its roster, the Farmington softball team was inexperienced heading into the 2011 season.
The cold and wet spring weather didn't help the young Tigers get prepared to make the transition to the varsity game. They were limited to just six outdoor practices over the course of the season. The combination of that inexperience and lack of preparation led to the mistakes that resulted in a pair of losses in the Section 1AAA Final Four last weekend at Todd Park in Austin.
The Tigers, who finished with a record of 11-12, managed just three hits and struck out 15 times in a 5-0 loss to third-ranked (Class 3A) Hastings in their Final Four opener Friday night. An elimination game followed and the Tigers clung to a 3-2 lead until four hits and a costly error in the bottom of the sixth allowed Rochester Mayo to advance with a 5-4 victory.
"Our mistakes gave Mayo the win," Farmington second-year coach Rob Laden said. "In essence, it has been the story most of the year. A lot of potential, but too many mistakes. We can't give teams four and five outs in an inning."
Still, Laden said he thinks the future is bright for his program.
"Our team was very young this season and they have a lot of future potential," he said. "However, they will have to work at it in the summer and the off-season to get better.... The girls want to be a great team. It is like everything else in life, if that is something they want to achieve they have to put in the time and effort to make it happen."
Hastings ace Treya Connell struck out 15 and scattered three hits as the top-seeded Raiders advanced to the next round.
Ashley Betzold was touched up for five runs in five hits in the second inning, then shut out Hastings in the third and fourth before Toni Hunsinger came in and pitched two shutout innings.
Hunsinger, Aleah Williamson and Taylor Haakana each ripped singles for Farmington.
"Hastings is one of the best teams in the state," Laden said. "We had one bad inning and they don't give up many runs."
Rochester Mayo 5,
The Tigers got on the board first, plating a run in the first inning on a Betzold single and an RBI single by Williamson.
After Mayo scored twice in the second, Farmington took the lead back in the fourth thanks to a two-run double by Taylor Yousse.
The Spartans took the lead back for good with three runs on four hits in the bottom of the sixth. The Tigers scored a run on an error to get back within a run in the seventh, but the potential tying run was stranded at third base.
Betzold had three of Farmington's eight hits and Alysssa Hagen added a pair of singles. Betzold also took the pitching loss, allowing four earned runs on 10 hits.
The Tigers advanced to Austin by sneaking by Northfield 3-2 in their section tournament opener last Wednesday in Farmington.
The score was tied at 2-2 when Yousse started the sixth with a single. She moved to third on base hits by Betzold and Allie Rice, then scored the game-winning run on a passed ball.
The other two Tiger runs came on an RBI single by Dani Muelken and a sacrifice fly by Hunsinger.