NORTH MANKATO, MINN. – The official end to a high school sports season is more often than not an emotional time for all involved. Win or lose, an extra few clumps of tissue are always a good option.
Pipestone’s softball season came to an end Friday afternoon at Caswell Park in the Class 2A third-place game. The Arrows lost 8-0 to Mankato East, the top-ranked team in 2A for much of the season.
When it ended, there was far more than the usual tears of disappointment. Along with shrugged shoulders, a few Pipestone players let emotions get the better of them and hastily tossed aside equipment in the dugout.
The third-place game was not where they wanted to be, and felt they had the chance at playing for a championship taken away.
“If we were going to lose, fine,” one parent said, storming out of the metal bleachers. “But let’s play seven innings.”
Pipestone lost 3-1 to Park Center on Thursday night in the semifinals, a game that was called after five innings when bad weather — including nearby lightning strikes — moved through the area.
The Arrows had a runner on first in the top of the sixth inning with no outs when a large bolt of lightning lit up the sky. No more pitches were thrown.
By rule, MSHSL regular-season and playoff games are considered official when “five full innings have been played; or the home team at bat has scored an equal or greater number of runs in four or four-and-a-fraction turns at bat than the visiting team has scored in five turns at bat.”
Representatives from both schools were present when the league made its decision shortly after 9:30 p.m. Arrows coach Troy Bouman then had to break the news to his team, which was waiting on a warm, dry bus and expecting to play at least six more outs.
“It was the probably toughest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Bouman said. “And I was worried how we’d come out [Friday]. But I told them life isn’t always fair and we’d have to overcome it.”
Bouman said he would like to see the rule changed down the road, making all games not decided by 10 or more runs go seven innings.
“To me, you play everything until the game is over,” he said. “And I think most coaches would feel the same way. But you know what? We don’t make the rules; we just have to abide by them. I’m proud of this team no matter what.”
Day 2 wrap-up
• Hopkins took third place in Class 3A, defeating North St. Paul 5-4 on Friday. The Royals scored the go-ahead run in the fifth inning on a Polars throwing error. Bloomington Jefferson was the Class 3A consolation bracket champion, defeating Totino-Grace 2-1 thanks to solo home runs by Lauren Falkanger and Hannah Evavold.
• In Class 2A, Zumbrota-Mazeppa and Albany both found the long ball as well in the consolation championship. The teams combined for five home runs in Zumbrota-Mazeppa’s 7-5 victory.
• The Class 1A third-place trophy went to Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg. The Fighting Saints belted 16 hits in an 11-5 victory over Blooming Prairie. New Ulm Cathedral won the 1A consolation championship 4-0 over Hawley.