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Members of the Hastings softball team wipe away tears and applaud while a teammate picks up a third-place medal after Hastings beat Maple Grove, 7-0, in the last game of the season. Pictured from left to right are Katie Nelson, Megan Magee, Marissa Holmes, Jordan Schaffer, Lisa Kranz, Jenelle Trautmann, Kelsey Nelson, Treya Connell and Teresa McCullen.

Raiders take 3rd at state tournament

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The pitch came in at the perfect spot. Low. Outside. Just where Hastings catcher Jordan Schaffer wanted it.

When Burnsville's Taylor Mackey swung her big aluminum bat at the pitch, it looked like she'd be lucky just to make contact.

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She was, and she did.

Off the ball flew. It landed just over the fence in right center field. With that swing, Burnsville advanced in the state tournament and Hastings' goal of winning the state title was dashed. The Blaze won, 1-0, in the state tournament semifinals and they went on to win the state title. Hastings came back the next day and won to place third.

For the Raiders, it was another phenomenal season. The team finished with a 23-4 record, their second straight Suburban East Conference title, their third straight section title and their second straight third-place finish at the state tournament. Hastings, though, had that big goal of winning a state title and in the moments following the Burnsville loss, all their accomplishments didn't seem to matter.

"When I saw the ball go over the fence, the first thing I did was look at the players," Hastings coach Dean Robinson said. "It was just heartbreaking for them. That's why I do this - for them. At the end of the season, I always tell them I want to see a big smile on their face. To see them crushed with one swing of the bat was the hardest thing for me. I was so bummed out for the players."

"They worked so hard. They definitely deserved it."

Hastings wasn't the first team to fall to Burnsville pitcher Kelsey Anderson. The Blaze rode her arm to some great things, and throwing a no-hitter against Hastings in the state semifinals is certainly right up there.

Hastings, though, was able to put balls in play against Anderson. She struck out just six Hastings batters, well below her season average.

"She has been striking out batters like crazy," Robinson said. "We put the ball in play, but we hit it at them, and they made plays."

Treya Connell pitched the game for Hastings. She struck out eight batters, walked one and gave up just four hits.

In the four losses this season, Hastings lost three by one run and lost all four by a combined score of 7-2.

"The games we lost this year, it was our bats," Robinson said. "Our pitchers have kept us right in there. Some of the pitchers we faced, we just couldn't hit them."

Robinson, though, didn't let the team dwell on the loss for long. Late Thursday night he sent out a text message to the team encouraging them to let it go and to begin preparations for the next day's third-place game.

"It was a great season," Robinson said. "The girls worked their tails off. They knew to reach the goals they had set for themselves, they'd have to do that.

"The big thing was team unity. The whole team was a lot closer this year. That's a huge step toward being an elite team."

Vs Prior Lake

It took a lot longer than planned, but the Hastings softball team beat Prior Lake in the first round of the state tournament Thursday, 5-0.

The game was to begin at 11 a.m., but got going late because rain delayed the day's first game. Once Hastings and Prior Lake got one scoreless inning into the tournament, play was halted on their field so crews could work to dry out the field.

Play resumed, but after a half-inning was played a bolt of lightning prompted play to be postponed. More rain put the field in even worse shape, and it wasn't until 3:30 p.m. that play resumed.

It was scoreless until the third inning when Hastings senior Lisa Kranz homered to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead.

In the fifth inning, it was Stef Wical's turn, and she hit a home run to give Hastings a 2-0 lead.

In the sixth, Hastings broke the game open with three runs.

Treya Connell reached and advanced. Marissa Holmes knocked in Connell. Wical came up to the plate and hit a double. Holmes came home on the play and slid in safely after crashing into the catcher. The ball flew to the backstop. Both Holmes and the Prior Lake catcher were sprawled out on the ground. Meanwhile, Wical kept running the bases and she eventually slid in behind Holmes.

"It was a pretty wild play," Robinson said.

Jenelle Trautmann pitched for Hastings and struck out eight batters. She allowed two walks and two hits.

Hastings and Prior Lake played once before this season in the championship game of a tournament at Benilde-St. Margaret's. Hastings won that meeting, 8-3, and that meeting gave the Raiders some valuable information on the Prior Lake pitcher.

"Our hitters definitely remembered playing Prior Lake," Robinson said. "The first time we got on their pitcher pretty good, nice and early. Just the team as a whole definitely adjusted from what we learned the first time we played that. That was a key to this win."

Vs Maple Grove

Hastings had no trouble beating Maple Grove in the third-place game Friday. Hastings scored one run in the first inning and five more in the second en route to a 7-0 victory.

Trautmann came just two outs away from recording a perfect game. The bid was broken up with one out in the seventh, when a Maple Grove player singled.

"Jenelle was just on," Robinson said. "Her and Jordan were really jelling. They were both thinking the same thing for every batter. It's always easier for the pitcher to hit her spots when you're not concerned about anything else. Her and Jordan worked very well together at state."

Trautmann finished with nine strikeouts and no walks. There were a number of big defensive plays made behind her that kept the perfect game intact until the seventh.

Several Hastings players had big days at the plate.

Brit Robinson was 2-4 for with two runs scored and an RBI. Schaffer had one hit and an RBI. Trautmann had a hit and an RBI. Connell had two hits and a run. Kaitlin Stark had one hit and one run. Holmes had a hit, a run and an RBI. Kranz had two hits and an RBI.

Postseason

Trautmann was named to the all-state tournament team. She and Schaffer were each selected to play in Sunday's all-star game.

Both were named to the all-metro team and both were first-team all-state selections.

Robinson and Connell were all-state honorable mention.

Seniors

Hastings will lose 11 seniors to graduation. Seniors on the team were Ashley Ellinghuysen, Katie Nelson, Megan Magee, Holmes, Schaffer, Trautmann, Kranz, Talisha Wickberg, Alex Otto, Mariah Ring and Alyssa Edmeier.

"Having 11 girls who loved the game like that, it was just awesome," Robinson said. "It shows they enjoyed going through the Hastings program. Big thanks need to go out to all the coaches who had them up through the ranks."

Now, Robinson and the Raiders must get focused on the future.

"There's definitely some spots open," he said. "There's a lot of younger players coming up. People are going to have to fight for spots."

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Chad Richardson
Chad Richardson is the publisher and editor at the Hastings Star Gazette. He was the general manager of the Farmington Independent and Rosemount Town Pages from 2000 to 2007. He previously worked at the Star Gazette from 1996 to 2000 as a photographer and reporter. He also worked as a photographer and writer at the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.
(651) 319-4500
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