Irish softball wins close section playoff games over Park, Hastings
The Rosemount Irish softball team advanced to the Section 3AAAA semifinals Thursday evening after playing two games over three days in unusual circumstances. The Irish—who are the No. 7 seed—faced No. 2 seed and No. 5 ranked in Class AAAA Park Wolfpack on Tuesday, May 21, and led 3-2 when the game was delayed due to rain. They finished on Wednesday, May 22, with 3-2 being the final and then traveled to No. 6 Hastings on Thursday, May 23. The two teams were scoreless until the seventh when Rosemount scored one run in the top of the inning and held on for the win during the Raiders' final at-bat.
The Irish advance to the section semifinals where they will take on No. 1 seed and No. 3-ranked East Ridge in Richfield on Tuesday, May 28. Should they win, they would then face whoever comes out of the consolation bracket on May 31 in Richfield.
After the game in Hastings, head coach Tiffany Rose said she was proud of how her team responded to the two-day win over Park and having to play Hastings the next day.
"They're definitely riding on some energy from beating Park because that's a huge game for the girls, they were super excited," she said. "We tried to just remind them that seeding doesn't matter and if you play great games at section tournament time you can beat any team. I think today they were just really going on that energy from yesterday, they were excited about winning yesterday so it just carried over into today and I thought they did a good job about being excited but a little bit calm and balanced so they weren't over the top too much, it was good."
Junior Linnea Ulland pitched all seven innings for Rosemount and was exceptional, giving up just two hits and a walk with three strikeouts. While the Raiders were able to hit the ball hard a few times, the Irish defense made some great plays including tracking down a laser line-drive to end the game.
"Linnea's been with us a long time, we have high expectations for all our pitchers but I thought she just did a great job," Rose said. "She was very focused today and she threw a lot of really great pitches, just kept them off balance a little bit. She just had good composure today, and she usually has good composure but there was just something different about her today. I said to my assistant coaches I could see it right when I told her she was starting today, she just had a little bit different look in her eye."
Rosemount scored the lone run of the game in the top of the seventh after making a couple substitutions in the top of the sixth in the hopes that it would spark the offense. Eighth-graders Jessa Snippes and Isabelle Nosan, and junior Lauren Hollenbeck were all inserted into the lineup and helped spark the rally in the seventh. With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, senior Kyla Johnson led off with a single that went off the Hastings left fielder's glove. She then scored on an RBI-double by Ulland who re-entered and hit a fly ball to the right-center gap where the Raiders' center fielder attempted to make a diving catch but had the ball fall out of her glove. Johnson, Ulland, Hollenbeck and senior Lauren Van Sickle had all four of Rosemount's hits with Ulland the lone RBI.