HIGH SCHOOL SOFTBALL: Beadle’s blast sends Brainerd back to state
Ali Beadle was getting frustrated.
In her two previous at bats in the Section 8-3A championship game against the Elk River Elks Wednesday at Adamson Field, the Brainerd third baseman was hit by a pitch twice and struck out once. Even the public address announcer wouldn’t play her favorite song.
So in her last at bat, Beadle released her frustrations and made her own sweet music as she sent an already ruckus crowd into a frenzy with a walkoff, three-run home run that resulted in a 6-3 Warriors win.
“I don’t even know what kind of a pitch it was,” said Beadle. “I don’t even know. It was just right there. I was like, ‘We have to win this game because we are not going to play on graduation day (Thursday).’ It happened. It feels great.”
Chelsie Manton, who started the rally with a single and went to second on Ashley Tibbetts’ intentional walk and moved to third on Jenni Smolke’s ground out, didn’t have to look to know it was gone.
“I was just sitting there and waiting for it,” said Manton. “I told coach, ‘I’m going on the pitch.’ He was yelling at me to wait until she gets contact. I knew she could do it. I knew she would pull through and she did. Oh, man. Right as I was going I told myself, ‘That’s gone.’
“I didn’t get to see it go over. I couldn’t tell. I was just going. When she hit that, I was just like, ‘That’s it. Let’s go.’”
The Warriors are going to the Class 3A state tournament for the second straight year. A little bit of pitching, a little bit of hitting and a lot of defense were the keys to Brainerd’s rally from a 3-0 deficit to repeat as section champions.
The Elks were aggressive at the plate, swinging at first-pitch strikes from Warriors pitcher Nikki Anderson. The fireballer gave up a leadoff single that resulted in a run in the first, fourth and fifth innings. Elk River finished with 10 hits overall to grab a 3-0 lead.
“I had to start throwing changeups and getting them off speed because their mentality was that the first pitch is probably going to be a strike so they went out swinging,” said Anderson. “This was a very good hitting team — a very disciplined team.
“I had to keep it up and my defense just came out and they helped me all the way. I didn’t get many strikeouts, but those didn’t matter to me. I just wanted outs. This team deserves the win.”
Anderson finished with five strikeouts, including two in the sixth inning, after Brainerd manufactured two runs.
Alanna Hansen was hit by a pitch to start the inning. An Alyssa Thoennes single and a throwing error put the two on third and second. Hannah Kangas hit a sacrifice fly to score Hansen and Manton grounded out to score Thoennes.
“We told ourselves that we will come through,” said Manton. “We’ve been down before against Rocori and we came through. All of us girls we were just waiting to get the right time on the ball. We were all kind of making contact and hitting to girls. In the end we came through with our bats. It’s an amazing feeling.”
Beadle was beaned to start the sixth and later scored on Karlie Manton’s sac fly to tie the game.
Anderson allowed another lead off single in the seventh, but this time the runner was stranded on second after a pop out and two ground outs. That set up Beadle’s heroics.
“We were just all praying to God,” said Anderson about the stressful seventh inning. “Beadle just saved us. She did amazing by tagging that pitch. As soon as I saw it, I knew it was gone. All the fans standing in the outfield they were screaming, ‘It’s gone. It’s gone.’”
Brainerd heads into the state tournament with a program best 21-0 record and a happy Beadle, who finally got to hear her song.
“I was a little mad because I really wanted to get a hit this game,” said Beadle. “I really wanted to do it and I was getting mad. I was like, ‘Come on. You can’t keep doing this to me.’ Then it happened.”
Elk River 100 110 0 — 3 10 2
Brainerd 000 021 3 — 6 6 0
Elk River: Moriah Bruns and Bethani Athey
Brainerd: Nikki Anderson and Carlie Sweet
WP: Anderson. LP: Bruns.
2B: ER-Katherine Opsahl
HR: Brd-Ali Beadle
SB: ER-Kayti Hanson
S: ER-Hanson; Brd-Hannah Kangas
SF: ER-Bruns, Brd-Karlie Manton
RBIs: ER-Bruns, Athey, Opsahl; Brd-Beadle 3, K. Manton, Chelsie Manton
DP: Brd 1
LOB: ER 6, Brd 4
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5856.