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Softball: Hastings eliminated after four section games

Shortstop Maddie Junker makes a quick throw in the win over Henry Sibley. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 3
Third-baseman Sara Radke pulls in the pop-up while pitcher Kayla Simacek and shortstop Maddie Junker look on. She is one of the key returners for the Raiders next season. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 3
Left fielder Sammie Miller makes watches the ball into her glove. Miller is one of just a few seniors who Hastings will lose to graduation. Alec Hamilton / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 3

Hastings softball had a long, winding journey in the section playoffs, but that journey came to an end when they were eliminated by Eagan Thursday, May 31. The Raiders, who were the No. 2 seed in Section 3AAAA, got off to the right start when they edged out No. 6 Henry Sibley on May 22, but they were then moved down to the elimination bracket when they lost to No. 2 Eastview 3-0 two days later. They won their first elimination game over No. 5 Rosemount, 4-3, on May 25, and then had to deal with a series of postponements last week due to the storms and rain that covered much of Minnesota. Hastings was then eliminated by No. 7 Eagan, 9-3.

Henry Sibley

Offense was at a premium during the Raiders' win over Henry Sibley in the first round. Both teams combined for just one run on five total hits as the Raiders edged out the Warriors in a pitcher's duel between Hastings' junior Kayla Simacek and Henry Sibley's Jaelyn Orth. The game's lone run came in the bottom of the second when junior Sarah Radke led the inning off with a single and scored on senior Sammie Miller's RBI triple to the right field corner. That was all Simacek needed as she went on to throw a two-hit shutout of the Warriors, who never threatened.

Meanwhile, Hastings' offense had plenty of chances but could not get a timely hit the rest of the game. After scoring the run in the bottom of the second, the Raiders stranded Miller on third after she reached with just one out, along with senior Katie Notch who walked with two outs. In the third, junior Megan Mattson led off the inning by reaching on an error and reached third with two outs, but was left there. Hastings also stranded runners in the fifth and sixth.

Simacek pitched seven innings, allowing just two hits and no runs or walks with seven strikeouts. Miller led the offense with two hits and the lone RBI, while Sarah Radke also had a hit and scored the game's only run. Simacek added a walk and Notch was hit by a pitch.

Eastview, Rosemount and Eagan

The Raiders were shutout by the Eastview Lightning in the second round. The Lightning scored one run early to lead 1-0 heading into the third and then secured their lead by scoring two more. The final was 3-0.

Against the Irish, Hastings once again fell behind early but this time were able to make a comeback. Rosemount scored one run in the top of the first but the Raiders responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the first. In the third, Rosemount hit a two-run home run to take a 3-1 lead but then Hastings got a run back on an RBI double by Joella Chamberlain that scored Miller. They then took the lead in the sixth after Katie Notch led off with a single and MacKenzie Putnam scored as a pinch-runner on Mattson's RBI triple. Mattson then scored on an RBI single by Kendal Jenkins to give Hastings a 4-3 lead, which was the final.

The game against Eagan was played over two days as it was postponed due to rain in the third inning. Both teams scored a run to make it 1-1 after the first inning and that was the score in the top of the third when the game was postponed. The next day, the Wildcats led 3-1 in the fourth inning and then extended that lead to 6-1 in the fifth. They went on to beat the Raiders 9-3.

Hastings ends its season with an 11-7 overall record including their 2-2 record in sections. The Raiders finished third in the MEC with a team that had the perfect mix of seniors, other experienced players and youth. They lose five seniors after this spring: Katie Notch, Anna Milton, Sammie Miller, Lauren Ernst and Allison Bauer. However, they return Simacek for another year on the mound plus a vast majority of their starters. Check back in the upcoming weeks for a season wrap-up.

Alec Hamilton

Alec Hamilton is a sports reporter and general assignment reporter at the Hastings Star Gazette. He is a journalism graduate of Drake University.

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