Softball: Detroit Lakes and Perham get first wins of the season in doubleheader split
On a day where the Detroit Lakes and Perham softball teams each had highs and lows, both got their first wins of the season and some confidence going forward.
DETROIT LAKES – The Detroit Lakes and Perham softball teams went into Monday afternoon's doubleheader looking for their first wins of the season. After 14 frantic innings, each team walked away with a victory.
Perham took game one 10-7 before the Lakers rode a big inning in the second game to a 12-7 win.
"It feels good," Detroit Lakes head coach Sydney Prussia said. "We've had a lot of nerves mixed in with not being able to be outside. It's been kind of tough working up to it, but I'm glad we got the first one under our belt."
Detroit Lakes kicked off the second game with a two-run first inning. Madisen Bellanger doubled to put runners on second and third. Siri Vagle, who reached base before Bellanger, scored on a passed ball before Sidney Borgmann's RBI single brought Bellanger home.
Perham's Ryleigh Mickelson had five RBIs in game one and picked up right where she left off in the top of the second in game two. With two outs, she brought home a pair of runs with a single. Ella Okeson regained a one-run lead for Detroit Lakes by scoring on a passed ball in the bottom of the frame.
The Lakers broke the game open in the bottom of the third. Bellanger and Borgmann scored on passed balls before Okeson drove in two more runs with a single. Rachel Kasowski brought two more runs home two batters later with a double to make it 9-2.
"That's what I've been seeing when we've been practicing," Prussia said. "It's been a struggle to get it to translate from inside a gym to the field. I want them to achieve more when they have much more potential. It's great to see them hit like that today."
The Lakers got to Perham starter Morgan Burkman in the third inning, forcing Steph Meissner to clean up the damage. Because Meissner pitched all seven innings in the first game, Detroit Lakes knew what to expect.
"I think the pitching change really helped us," Prussia said. “(Meissner) is their No. 1 pitcher. Our batters saw her in the first game and took advantage of their second pitcher in the second game. When she went back in, they'd already seen her. Getting the bats on both of their pitchers in the second game was great."
Despite going down seven runs in the third inning, the Yellowjackets refused to go away. They strung together three runs in the fourth and fifth inning before Mickelson and Meissner made it a 9-7 game with RBI singles.
"I love the resiliency of this group," Perham head coach Jason Groth said. "I know the scores against Hawley didn't look good, but they continued to fight. They battled even after that big (inning) today. That's the one thing I like about this team–there's no give up."
With a two-run lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, Detroit Lakes starting pitcher Megan Stalberger gave herself some insurance. She blasted a three-run home run to give the Lakers a five-run advantage.
"I'm glad that our lineup is well-rounded and that I can rely on the bottom of the order to not just get us to the top of the order," Prussia said. "We aren't in a position where we need to rely on the top of the lineup for runs. Good for (Stalberger) there. She's been working really hard."
The Yellowjackets didn't go down without making it interesting. After scoring a pair of runs to cut the deficit to three, Meissner came up as the tying run with Mickelson and Morgan Smith in scoring position. After belting a foul ball home run, Stalberger got Meissner to strike out for the Lakers' first win of the season.
The victory was not just the first of the year for a Detroit Lakes team trying to improve on last year's 2-20 record. It's the first of Prussia's high school coaching career. After spending years collecting wins for Detroit Lakes as a player, she notched what she hopes is the first of many as a head coach.
"It feels good. It's kind of a relief," Prussia said on getting her first win as head coach. "I get a little too into the games. I was on the edge of my seat because it was so intense at the end there. I'm glad they can show me they want to win and they want to listen, improve and work as a team."
In the first contest, it was Perham who got the big home run. After Detroit Lakes took a 1-0 lead on a Borgmann sacrifice fly, Hannah Hunter tied the game on a fielder's choice. Mickelson then ripped a three-run home run to put the Yellowjackets ahead 4-1.
"She's just a dynamic player," Groth said of Mickelson. She does a lot of things well for us. Once she hit that home run, they started to play further back at third. Everyone is trying to take the bunt away from her. Adding (power) to her game will continue to elevate as she gets older."
Perham tacked on three more runs in the fifth inning. Hannah Zacharaison scored on a passed ball before two more baserunners scored on errors to take a 7-1 lead. Kasowski drove in a pair of runs for Detroit Lakes in the bottom of the inning to cut the lead to three.
Each team was tested with holding a big lead. Detroit Lakes hung on to win game two just hours after Perham added enough insurance to take game one. Meissner singled to give the Yellowjackets an 8-3 lead before the Lakers made their push.
Kasowski and Borgmann each walked with the bases loaded in the bottom of the sixth before Vagle scored on a passed ball. However, the five-run deficit wasn't completely erased after the Lakers' third base-running blunder of the game. Perham successfully threw out three runners at the plate, including one in the sixth inning, to keep the damage to a minimum.
"Because of the habit of this winter and spring, teams will make some mistakes," Groth said. "I think as we all get to spend more time outside, we'll see a lot of that cleaned up."
Mickelson came through again for the Yellowjackets in the top of the seventh. A two-out, two-run double tallied her fourth and fifth RBIs of the game. Mickelson, Perham's leadoff hitter, was put in favorable situations at the plate because the bottom of the order found ways to get on base.
"I really like our lineup," Groth said. "We talked, at the beginning of the year, about how we have some experience but not much. Some girls are playing varsity for the first time, and they're starting to get acclimated. Once the game slows down for them, the offense will put up even more."
Coley got on base in the bottom of the seventh with a double, which was her fifth hit of the game. Vagle also reached with her fourth hit, setting up a Kasowski as the game-tying run with two outs.
"That's exactly what we wanted," Prussia said of getting nine hits from the top two girls in the batting order. "Our first two games were a little slow, so seeing them swing with confidence and set the tone was great. That's exactly what I want from them."
Kasowski grounded out to first base to end a rollercoaster game. In a doubleheader that featured highs and lows from both dugouts, both teams walked away from a cold, windy afternoon with a positive outlook going forward.
"It was really nice to see the bats come together," Groth said. "I think our lineup is going to be one of our bigger strengths. We have a lot of good hitters. I think it's going to be key for us to keep putting up runs. I think it continued into the second game, even in a loss. I think the offense will continue, especially as it gets warmer."
"Detroit Lakes is much improved from last year," Groth said. "Credit to them. Sydney Prussia is going to do a great job with that program, and I'm looking forward to seeing what's going to happen there."