The Faribault Falcons softball team defeated Northfield 1-0 in a 10 inning thriller at Alexander Park in Faribault.  Faribault rated #2 in the Minnesota Softball Coaches Association Class 3A rankings and Northfield #3.  There was some serious dealing in this game.  Falcons senior McKayla Armbruster tallied 15 strikeouts while throwing 142 pitches, 110 for strikes, allowed one walk and three hits.

Raiders sophomore Brynn Hostettler fanned 19 Faribault hitters, 10 of them looking and senior Caroline Pritchard recorded one strikeout.  Hostetler allowed just 3 hits in her 9 innings of work with 141 pitches, 90 for strikes.  The right handed pitcher walked 4 batters in the first three innings, one intentionally and then settled into a groove.  She had strikeouts in all but one inning and struck out all but two batters in the Faribault lineup.

Northfield brought Pritchard in to pitch the 10th inning.   My guess is because Abby Lake was due up in the 10th and she got two hits off Hostettler.  Pritchard took the tough loss after starting the inning with a strikeout, number nine hitter Lauren O'Neil had a 7 pitch at bat resulting in a walk.  Junior Abby Lake cracked her third hit of the game to place runners at first and second with no outs.  The Raiders elected to intentionally walk senior Ellie Knutson to put a force at any base.  Armbruster then connected for a hit to right field bringing home O'Neil and ending the game.

The Raiders best chance at a big inning was probably the fourth when sophomore MiKaela Girard took an 0-2 pitch and crushed it to the fence in right center.  Falcons senior Lexi Velander hit shortstop Abby Lake quickly and Girard was thrown out at third base on the perfect relay to Knutson.  After the game Lake said they worked a lot Monday in practice on relays.

Northfield also worked some counts in the 7th inning forcing Armbruster, the state's strikeout queen to throw 28 pitches in that inning.  The inning started with an out on the first pitch, then a strikeout looking before Raiders cleanup hitter junior Anne Fossum clubbed a double on a full count during a 9 pitch at bat.  Sophomore catcher Chloe Rozga hit a ball on the 6th pitch of her at bat to second resulting in an error.  Fossum went to third base and Rozga's courtesy runner eventually went to second with two outs.  Armbruster struck out Pritchard in a 7 pitch at bat.

Lake started the game with a great at bat resulting in a walk.  It was 8 pitches.  Following a strikeout Armbruster was at the plate and Lake stole second to get into scoring position with just one out and the team's top two hitters coming to the plate.  Hostetler struck out Armbruster swinging for the second out.  Northfield chose to intentionally walk Abby Van Ryn after the count was 2-0 and it worked wit the next batter striking out.

The bottom of the third started with a walk by Lauren O'Neil on four pitches.  Lake executed a bunt that got O'Neil to second base with one out.  Following a strike out Armbruster walked on six pitches.  Van Ryn jumped on the first pitch and hit the ball right back to Hostettler for the third out.

Lake had a two out single off Hostettler in the 5th inning.  After the sophomore Raiders pitcher sent down 8 straight batters Lake hit another single in the 8th inning with one out.  The junior shortstop stole second base but Hostettler struck out Knutson and Armbruster to end that threat.

Velander had a one out single in the bottom of the 9th inning but the next two batters struck out looking.

Northfield got a lead single in the top of the 10th.  Pritchard popped up a bunt attempt that Van Ryn caught.  The next batter bunted.  Armbruster alertly threw to Lake at second to get the lead runner.  The inning ended with a soft liner back to the pitcher.

It was senior day for the Falcons.  Before the game they recognized three players from last year's team who did not receive their state championship rings earlier this year.  Camryn Salmonsen, Ali Schak and Bre Bresnahan were presented with their rings.

Our Faribault State Farm Insurance agents Faribault players of the game were, Armbruster with the win in the pitcher's circle and the game winning hit.  Abby Lake was on base four of the five times up and the other time executed a sacrifice.  She also had the relay in the field and caught every ball hit to her at shortstop.  Lauren O'Neil scored the game winning run.  She and Lake were the only batters not to strike out against Hostettler.

The Raiders sophomore now has 187 strikeouts in 85 innings pitched and has allowed 32 hits in 15 games.  Armbruster has 273 strikeouts in 132 innings pitched and recorded her 11th shutout of the season.  She has allowed 48 hits in 18 games, walked 9 batters all season.  Armbruster has given up 10 runs, 6 earned all year.

Faribault improved to 17-1 and finishes their regular season Thursday at Rochester Mayo.  We will have the game on the radio.

Sections begin at Caswell Park in North Mankato Wednesday.  The Falcons should be the #2 seed.  Mankato West the #1 seed.  State ranked New Ulm and Mankato East are also in the section.

Faribault and Northfield Softball Home Plate Meeting Before Game. Photo by Gordy Kosfeld