The Hastings Raiders' softball team started its season in unusual fashion: they played a double-header in the middle of the school day in a dome. The Raiders faced off against Forest Lake and Anoka last Friday in a double-header with games at noon and 2 p.m. Hastings fell to Forest Lake 1-0 in the first game, with the Rangers only run coming on a home run. Against Anoka, one inning cost the Raiders, a four-run fourth from which they never recovered in a 4-0 loss.
Playing in a dome proved to be a unique experience as the lighting was not the best and it definitely favored ground ball pitchers, as any pop fly that hit the ceiling was considered a dead ball. Junior Kayla Simacek threw a complete game against Forest Lake and her only mistake was leaving a ball in the zone, which resulted in a home run and the Rangers' only run of the game. However, generating consistent offense was a problem for the Raiders as they only threatened once and were unable to execute. Hastings batters struck out 13 times and their only consistency at the plate came from veterans Megan Mattson and Maddie Junker.
Game two against Anoka went very similar to the loss to Forest Lake. Simacek stayed on the mound but in her 11th inning of the day was finally hit hard to the tune of four runs, including a two-run home run. Anoka went up 4-0 and the Hastings offense could not get anything going. The next inning Simacek was relieved by senior Lauren Ernst, who pitched a handful of shutout innings, but the Raider offense could not mount a comeback.
Overall, for it being the first two games of the season the Hastings defense played well and the pitching was very good. However, playing against two good teams like Forest Lake and Anoka is a tough start to the season and the Raider offense could not keep up. Also, they were without sophomore infielder Mallory Brake for the weekend, who brings some much-needed power to the lineup.
Hastings next plays on Saturday, April 28, at home against Hopkins. Next week, they play four games in five days as they start Metro East Conference play against Tartan, Simley, North St. Paul and Mahtomedi.