Hermantown bows out

GRAND RAPIDS -- Hermantown pitcher Kristina Carlson slammed her glove to the infield dirt after Niki Michaelis joined Big Lake's home run derby Thursday.

GRAND RAPIDS -- Hermantown pitcher Kristina Carlson slammed her glove to the infield dirt after Niki Michaelis joined Big Lake's home run derby Thursday.

Michaelis, a junior outfielder, was the third Hornets player to homer off Carlson in the Section 7AAA high school softball championship game, and for the Hawks senior it brought back unkind memories of last year's matchup.

Big Lake senior Karissa Hendrickson's three-run blast ended Hermantown's season a year ago, one game shy of the Class AAA state tournament. Teammates Chelsea Erickson, Lyndsay Westgaard and Michaelis did the damage Thursday as Big Lake won 6-2 at the Grand Rapids Sports Complex.

"When you face hitters like that, you have to move it around. You have to throw it too far out or too far in, but not over the plate," Carlson said. "The pitches might have been too close to the plate and those batters can hit mistakes. If you make a little error, they can take advantage of it. And they did."

Erickson, who allowed just four hits to earn the win, started the home run parade with a two-run shot over the center-field fence in the third inning to give the Hornets (24-3) a 2-1 lead.


"That was kind of the turning point," Big Lake coach Sue Bowen said. "We didn't look so hot the first couple innings. But I knew it was a matter of being disciplined. The thing about this team is that [hitting] is contagious. All it takes is one person to get a good hit and then everyone else follows suit."

Erickson homered in a 7-1 victory over Hermantown (23-3) on Wednesday, ending the Hawks' 14-game winning streak.

"Our top six have all hit home runs this season," the junior said. "I was just looking to put the ball in play. I got the pitch I wanted and I went with it. It just happened to go over. I was thinking if we could get that one big hit again this year, it would be huge."

After Hendrickson's two-out triple and a costly infield error made it 3-1 in the fifth, Westgaard and Michaelis put the game out of reach with solo home runs the following inning.

The Hornets have hit 17 home runs this season, six during the section final four.

"[Big Lake] hit the ball through the lineup," Hermantown coach Tom Bang said. "They hit mistakes just like big leaguers. If a pitch flattened out or didn't get location, they certainly didn't make a mistake on it."

Big Lake plays either Alexandria or Annandale in the Class AAA quarterfinals next Thursday at Caswell Park in North Mankato, Minn.

For Hermantown, it was the school's last season of a two-year run in Class AAA. The Hawks return next season to Class AA, where they won five straight section titles from 2000-05.


"It's a testament to our program to be competitive each year, especially to lose the kids we lost last year," Bang said of back-to-back 7AAA finals appearances. "There's a lot of good players and pitchers in 2A, so it doesn't make it any easier to get through."

Big Lake 002 012 1 -- 6 8 2

Hermantown 101 000 0 -- 2 4 2

At Grand Rapids. WP: Chelsea Erickson 7IP, 4H, 2R, 1BB. LP: Kristina Carlson 7IP, 4ER, 8H, 5K, 1 BB. BL: Karissa Hendrickson 3x4 (3B), 3R; Erickson 1x3 (2R HR in 3rd), 2RBIs; Lyndsay Westgaard HR in 6th; Niki Michaelis HR in 6th; H: Sarah Edgerton RBI double in 1st.

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