Rabbits knocked out of 3A softball tourney

By Matt Dahlseid


MARSHALL – The Wabasso softball team worked its way out of a handful of jams in a 5-3 win over Windom Tuesday in an elimination game in the Section 3A tournament, but the Rabbits didn’t have enough any magic left later in the evening as they were knocked off by Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian in a 6-0 loss at the Marshall Softball Complex.

A two-run blast to left-center field by cleanup hitter Tanner Gunnink in the fourth inning opened the gates for Edgerton/SWC against Wabasso and pitcher Kimberly Frank. The Flying Dutchmen (15-6 overall) had seven hard-hit balls over the fourth and fifth innings, four of which were for extra bases, as they tacked six runs on the board.

The Wabasso offense had no answer. The Rabbits didn’t manage more than one hit in any inning against Edgerton/SWC pitcher Tiana Top and saw their season come to an end with a 12-5 record.

“For as seasoned as they are, we didn’t play like we know how to play,” said Wabasso head coach John VanLoy, who will lose six seniors from this year’s squad. “That happens. And we didn’t hit the ball like we normally hit the ball, but we’ve struggled the last six to eight games hitting the ball. I don’t know what the difference is.”

Edgerton/SWC advances to play unbeaten Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg at 5 p.m. Thursday in Marshall. The Fighting Saints beat the Flying Dutchmen 6-2 Saturday in Cottonwood to knock them down to the losers’ bracket. Edgerton/SWC would have to beat KMS twice on Thursday to win the section championship.

Frank, who pitched both games for Wabasso, got through the first three innings against the Flying Dutchmen unscathed but Gunnink’s homer seemed to give a charge to the Edgerton/SWC bats. In the fifth inning, the Flying Dutchmen got three sharply-hit doubles by Tara DeKam, Jessica Menning and Ciara Everett in a stretch of four batters as they built a comfortable 6-0 lead.

VanLoy made a trip out to the circle to try to settle Frank down during the big inning.

“When I went out in the timeout I told her, ‘You have to change speeds or you have to get the ball down and throw change-ups or something because they’re just sitting on you,” he said. “‘You’re getting tired so you really have to reach back every single time.’

“I don’t know how many pitches she threw today but it was a lot. That wears on her arm.”

Frank’s arm had gone through a lot in the first game against Windom when she had to work her way out of several sticky situations. She got out of bases-loaded jams without giving up a run in three of the first four innings. Frank wasn’t able to keep Windom off the board in the third inning, however, as Sami Peterson led off with a double and was knocked in by a single by Jamie Symens before Megan Theesfeld had a three-RBI triple off the wall in right-center.

“We faced three bases-loaded situations in the first four innings. It was just ridiculous,” VanLoy said. “But it’s no different than the games we’ve been playing. She struggled a bit keeping the ball down and it was the same in the Edgerton game.”

In this game, Wabasso’s offense was able to respond. The Rabbits scored two runs in the fourth to gain a 3-2 lead. Frank, who went 3-for-4 in the game with two runs scored, an RBI and a hit-by-pitch, came up with a key RBI single through the left side of the infield and an error by the left fielder allowed a second Wabasso run to score.

The Rabbits also added a run in both the fifth and sixth innings. Callie Rohlik knocked in Desi Kramer with a single in the fifth, and a groundout by Kramer allowed Frank to score in the sixth with the bases loaded.

The only 1-2-3 inning Frank had was in the seventh. The Eagles stranded 13 runners on base over the other six innings.

Frank and most of the other seniors on the squad were key contributors on Wabasso’s last state tournament-qualifying team in 2010. They weren’t able to make it back this year, but it was a tough road for the Rabbits, who lost in the 3A tournament to the two teams who will be playing for the section title.

“We had a good season,” VanLoy said. “It isn’t like we didn’t play hard. Edgerton’s a good ballclub. I was glad we got through the Windom game because we needed to do that for us. Edgerton is a nice team and hopefully they can give KMS a good game, but KMS is pretty solid.”