Hastings claims conference championship on a no-hitter
An incredible Hastings softball season just keeps getting better. On Monday, Hastings won their third-straight Suburban East Conference title with a no-hitter. Hastings beat Stillwater in the game, 2-0.
Winning another league crown was no easy feat this year, especially considering the fact that the Raiders graduated 11 players from last year's team.
"When you lose 11 players, that's just crazy," coach Dean Robinson said.
Coming in to this season, the team set a number of lofty goals. Winning another conference title was on that list.
"It was definitely a goal - it's not our main goal, but that was our first goal," he said. "The girls stepped up and did it. They knew it would take the team, not just an individual. These girls have been tremendous with teamwork."
New faces are all over the diamond this year, and those new players have played key roles, Robinson said.
"We've just had great team chemistry this year," he said. "Everybody is just playing for each other. It's been a blast. It's just a great group of girls. It's been a huge lift for our team to have these young girls come in and have the support these older girls are giving them. It's just been an awesome experience. It's been a great time coaching these girls."
Hastings finished league play with a 13-1 mark. The only loss was to Mounds View. Stillwater, which placed second, finished with an 11-3 record.
Hastings has a 16-2 overall record.
In the big win over Stillwater, Hastings senior Treya Connell pitched the no hitter, striking out 13 batters along the way.
She nearly had a perfect game, in fact. In the sixth inning, a pitch sailed wide and the Stillwater batter waved and missed at the pitch. It had gone so far outside, in fact, that catcher Rachel Thomas had the ball bounce off her glove. It rolled to the fence, and the batter raced to first. She was the only Stillwater player to reach base in the entire game.
Connell's go-to pitch was the rise ball.
"It was the rise ball, again," Robinson said. "Her rise ball has been great all season. It's a tough pitch to lay off of. She really kept them off balance. Our defense was big, too. With a good defense behind you, you can risk it a little bit as a pitcher. She knows if it does get hit, her defense will take care of her."
Hastings batters had a tough time at the plate, too, striking out 12 times.
The Raiders got big hits when they needed them, though. In the first inning, Michaela Mills reached and then Connell was intentionally walked. Kaitlin Stark came up and singled between third and short to score Mills.
In the sixth, Hastings added a run. Lori Bauer singled and was eventually forced out at second on a ball hit by Thomas. Thomas was replaced at first by courtesy runner Mikayla Minnaert.
Shelby Wassink came in and drew a walk. Britt Robinson then came up and hit a ball to the outfield that scored Minnaert.
Hastings played at the Benilde-St. Margaret's tournament on Saturday, but it certainly wasn't an ideal day for the Raiders. Prom was Saturday night, and the team ended up playing with a varied lineup for much of the day.
In the first game, with nearly a full complement of varsity regulars, Hastings beat Visitation, 19-0.
Connell threw a no-hitter and struck out eight batters. The game was stopped after five innings.
Hastings scored three runs in the first inning, 13 in the second and four in the fifth.
Robinson led off the game with a home run. Connell hit a home run in the second inning.
Robinson finished with three hits. Connell had two hits, as did Thomas and Bauer.
In the tournament's second game, Connell had left for prom. Robinson pitched for the first time in nearly two years and got the win, as Hastings beat New Life, 4-2.
Robinson struck out six and collected three hits.
In the tournament's championship game, Hastings fielded a number of newcomers and ended up losing to Prior Lake, 13-6.
Courtney VanDeVelde got her first varsity pitching start. The Lakers had a 6-2 lead going into the sixth, when they put eight up on the board to pull away.
"It was a great experience for the younger girls, just to get some playing time," Robinson said. "With a lot of seniors on this year's team, next year is going to be a season where the girls are fighting for positions. They got to get out there and play against Prior Lake, which had its whole varsity team out there."
Thomas finished with two hits, including a triple.
Minnaert had a triple and Taylor Wickberg finished with two hits and two RBI.
Hastings had three all-tournament players. They were Mills, Thomas and Robinson.
Vs East Ridge
Hastings beat East Ridge on Thursday, 10-0.
Connell threw a two-hitter, striking out seven and walking two.
Lundquist had two hits, including a two-run homer.
Stef Wical had a two-run double and Bauer hit a two-run homer.
Connell had a big hit, too, a two-run single.
Hastings beat Park, 3-0, last Wednesday.
Connell picked up another win, striking out 12 and allowing just four hits.
In the second inning, Hastings got a run. Wical and Bauer singled. Thomas knocked in Wical.
In the third, Stark singled and Wical walked. Thomas knocked in Stark.
In the fourth, Mills reached, Robinson walked, Connell walked and Stark flew out to right to score one on a sacrifice fly.
Now, the Raiders are busy with preparations for the section tournament, which begins here Wednesday night, May 25.
Hastings expects to get one of the top seeds, and will play host to a three-team single elimination tournament here. The winner of the night's first game will advance to play Hastings. The loser goes home. The winner advances to a four-team, double elimination tournament in Austin which begins May 27.
Other top teams in the section include Rochester John Marshall, Winona and Farmington.
Hastings will enter play with some crazy statistics.
Connell leads the team with a .535 batting average. She has struck out just once on the season. In 96 innings of pitching, she has struck out 159 batters and she has a 0.73 ERA.
Bauer is batting .457.
Lundquist is hitting .392, Stark is at .383 and Robinson is at .339.