The Faribault Falcon fast-pitch softball team continued their late season surge of timely hitting, solid defense and excellent pitching Thursday with a sweep of state-ranked Northfield.

The new State Softball Coaches Poll had Northfield listed in also receiving votes in Class 3A.

Faribault won the first game 2-1 in nine innings and picked up a 4-0 win in the second contest at North Alexander Park in Faribault.

Freshman McKayla Armbruster struck out 13 and walked nobody in the first game while scattering four hits and sophomore Claire Drentlaw also had no walks and fanned seven Northfield batters in the second contest.

Faribault had nine hits in the first game and left 12 runners on base, eight of them in scoring position.

Northfield started the scoring in the first game with a run in the top of the fourth inning. Freshman Caroline Pritchard opened the inning with a single and Jillian Noel also had a single. Freshman Rachel Kelly had a sacrifice bunt to advance runners to second and third.

Pritchard would score on an error and sophomore shortstop Bre Bresnahan would end the inning with a terrific tag of a runner heading to third and throw to first for a double play.

In the bottom of the fourth Faribault answered. With one out, senior designated player Raena Quinnell continued her hot hitting with a single and later scored on an RBI single by freshman Ellie Knutson.

In the fifth, Northfield opened the inning with a single by senior Nell Gehrke and then Armbruster set down the next 12 Raider batters.

The Falcons looked like they were going to win the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. They had runners at second and third with nobody out and did not score.

After the bottom of the ninth started with a ground out, Armbruster clubbed a double and scored the game-winning run in walk off fashion after Drentlaw smacked the game-winning hit.

Armbruster was one of the State Farm Insurance Faribault agents Faribault players of the game. The righty threw 122 pitches, 81 for strikes, and most impressively was 26 of 30 in first-pitch strikes.

The other players of the game were Drentlaw with two hits, including the game winner, and Quinnell who scored the other run and collected two hits in the game.

Northfield junior pitcher Sierra Barck was also impressive with 75 of her 112 pitches going for strikes. She had three strikeouts and one walk.

In the second game, Faribault scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning.

Lead-off hitter freshman Lauren O'Neil had a walk to start the game and used her speed in a double steal to get to third and scored on a wild pitch. McKayla Armbruster had a single and Claire Drentlaw smacked a RBI single.

The Falcons scored two more runs in the fifth inning when No. 9 hitter Ellie Knutson started the inning with a single and advanced to third on an error.

Armbruster knocked her home with a RBI single and Drentlaw followed with and RBI double.

Northfield had their chances to score in the game and out-hit Faribault 8-6.

For example, a leadoff triple by Nell Gehrke in the fourth did not score.

There was a wild pitch in the next at bat and freshman Falcon catcher Abby Van Ryn hustled to gather the ball and had a perfect throw to Drentlaw to get the runner trying to score.

Our Faribault State Farm agents Faribault players of the game were Drentlaw, Armbruster, McNeil and Van Ryn.

Van Ryn did not collect a hit on the day but was robbed of three by each outfield position.

In the top of the fourth inning in the first game Van Ryn, smashed the ball to left center field and freshman outfielder Rachel Kelly used every inch of her tall frame to run down the ball.

In the first inning of the second game, Van Ryn looked like she was going to collect a hit when Northfield right fielder Nell Gehrke made a nice diving catch and got the ball back into the infield for an inning-ending double play.

Van Ryn smashed another ball about as hard as you can hit one to lead off the seventh in the second game and was probably robbed of extra bases by the left fielder.

Van Ryn also calls all the pitches in the game and again did a masterful job of keeping hitters off balance.

Armbruster had a number of first-pitch changeups that worked and the change appeared to be Drentlaw's out pitch in the second game.

With the wins, the Falcons are on a seven-game winning streak and will play Section foe Hutchinson on the road Saturday. First pitch is at noon.

Faribault is 11-5 overall and 5-5 in the Big Nine and Northfield is 7-8 overall and 4-6 in conference play.

The Raiders will host Farmington on Monday night at 4:45PM.

Northfield Head Coach Ryan Pietsch Instructs Team After Faribault Sweep
Northfield Head Coach Ryan Pietsch Instructs Team After Faribault Sweep

In other area softball Thursday:

  • Mankato West 7, Owatonna 4
  • Rochester Mayo 11, Red Wing 0
  • Rochester John Marshall 3, Winona 2
  • Winona 2, John Marshall 0
  • New Prague 10, Hutchinson 4
  • Apple Valley 3, Lakeville South 2
  • Rosemount 3, Hill-Murray 2
  • Bethlehem Academy 12, United South Central 2
  • Rochester Lourdes 6, St. Charles 3
  • Triton 15 Triton 2 (5 innings) (Cobra Candi Utech had 9 RBI going 3-for-3 with two doubles and a triple)
  • NRHEG 11, Medford 1
  • Martin County West 8, Mankato Loyola 6
  • Randolph 10, Blooming Prairie 7 (9 innings)
Friday I'll have a softball doubleheader in Waterville when the Buccaneers host Kenyon-Wanamingo and Faribault Bethlehem Academy.
The first game the Knights tangle with the Bucs, with coverage beginning at 3:45PM ,and the second game it'll be the Cardinals and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.
Much like the fall when the two Gopher Conference volleyball teams collided at state, the Buccaneer and Cardinal softball teams are having great seasons too.

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