Irish softball falls one game short of section championship game
The Rosemount Irish softball team advanced to the Section 3AAAA semifinals last week before dropping two straight games to end their season. The Irish—who were the No. 7 seed—started with upset victories over No. 2 Park 3-2 on (spread over two days, May 21-22 due to rain) and No. 6 Hastings 1-0 on May 23. From there, Rosemount advanced to play No. 1 East Ridge on Tuesday, May 28, for the opportunity to play in the section championship game, but lost 8-1. They then dropped down to the consolation bracket where they fell 3-0 to No. 4 Eastview on Wednesday, May 29. The loss ended Rosemount's sections run where they had a 2-2 record. The Irish finished 2019 overall with a 12-11 overall mark, 10-9 during the regular season and 8-6 in the South Suburban Conference, which was good for a tie for sixth.
Stats were not available for the loss to East Ridge. Against Eastview, the game was scoreless until the Lightning scored all three of their runs in the top of the fourth. The Irish scattered six hits across seven innings but were unable to answer.
Junior Linnea Ulland pitched the first 3 ⅓ innings and allowed three runs—just one earned—on two hits with two walks and two strikeouts. She was relieved by senior Hailey Sickler who threw the remaining 3 ⅔ innings and gave up just three hits to go along with two strikeouts. Rosemount's six hits came from six different batters—Ulland, Sickler, sophomore Izzy Yahr, senior Kyla Johnson, junior Lauren Hollenbeck and eighth-grader Isabelle Nosan.
Wins over Park and Hastings
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," Rose 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."
Ulland pitched all seven innings for Rosemount against Hastings 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-grader Jessa Snippes, Nosan and Hollenbeck were all inserted into the lineup and helped spark the rally in the seventh.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, 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.