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Elk River's Jayme Langbehn scored the winning run in the 8th inning beating the throw to Prior Lake catcher Kara Lattery. (Marlin Levison, Star Tribune photo)
NORTH MANKATO, MINN. - Elk River freshman Jayme Langbehn would run through the fence if meant winning a state softball championship. Good thing for her, she only had to fall over it once and reach over it a second time Friday, robbing would-be Prior Lake home runs to key the Elks’ Class 3A title.
The catches, in the sixth and eighth innings, helped secure a 4-3 victory over the Lakers at Caswell Park.
“I couldn’t believe it,” Elk River senior Kathi Opsahl said. “Without her catching those, Prior Lake has two home runs and they’re winning.”
Like the rest of the Elks, Opsahl began jumping up and down after the first catch, with the teams tied 3-3. Langbehn tracked the ball to dead center field, jumped, caught it and held on tight as she tumbled to the other side. Prior Lake’s Shayne Barton, who homered earlier in the game, finished her lap around the bases, hoping that it was still a home run because Langbehn landed out of play. The umpires confirmed the out and the game remained tied.
In the bottom of the eighth, with Elk River leading 4-3, Prior Lake’s Sam Buhmann hit a deep fly into left-center field and thought she had tied the score. Langbehn saw an out, reached over the fence on the run, and hauled it in.
In-between the game-saving catches, Langbehn scored the go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning. Courtney Jensen was responsible for the RBI.
“You rarely get one catch like that in lifetime and to get two … hats off to her,” said Prior Lake senior shortstop Libby Bingham, who had two of the Lakers three RBI. “That’s clutch and that’s what you need to win [a championship].”
Elk River saw its 3-0 lead disappear in the fifth inning, but pitcher Anna Pipenhagen managed to finish out the tournament without any help in the circle. She struck out seven Friday.
But after the game, it was an emotional Langbehn who was showered with accolades from fans, tournament officials and teammates who called her “hero” and more.
“Never seen anything like it.”
“Thanks for the entertainment.”
“I do whatever it takes,” she said about catching fly balls. “I feel like I’m not very important cause I’m just a freshman, but every player counts and I’m happy I did it for my teammates.”