In a do-or-die situation and many facing their last game, the Saint James Saints softball team has been at their best - and are looking to exact revenge against foe Pipestone on Thursday.

Perhaps, third time's a charm?

The Saint James softball team may have picked the right time to play their best softball - and with their back against the wall - the team has keyed a magical run to earn a much-awaited rematch against Pipestone in the Section 3AA Softball Championship match on Thursday.

When the Saints dropped their second-round contest against Pipestone 13-0, the Saints had a tall task ahead of them - they would need to win four loser's bracket games to get into the Section 3AA championship game.

Saturday, May 26th - one loss into a double elimination tournament - Saints ace Brooklyn Mickelson knew she needed to deliver two quality starts to allow her team to move into the semifinals of the loser’s bracket.

“I knew I needed to have a strong performance {Saturday},” said Mickelson. “I knew I needed to deliver.”

The senior didn’t just deliver; she dominated. Mickelson would throw back-to-back complete game shutouts on Saturday to advance the Saints into the semifinals.

Mickelson was flat-out unhittable in her postseason shutouts as the Saints moved past both Minneota/Canby (10-0) and Morris Area Alberta (4-0).

In her dominant Saturday, Mickelson notched 19 strikeouts in 13 innings allowing only six hits.

“Brooklyn was at her best form on Saturday,” said coach Sam Baumgartner. “From the first inning of the Minneota game to the last inning of the Morris Area game - she left no doubt that we moving to the semifinals.”

If there was any doubt that Mickelson had anything left in the tank - after a quality complete-game performance in the Saints 13-4 win against New London-Spicer, the senior saved her piece de resistance for Martin County West.

On a rainy, cloudy evening in Marshall, Mickelson cleared the Saints' path to a rematch with Pipestone with a one-hit, 10-strikeout performance against Martin-County West.

How dominant has the Saints hurler been in these playoffs? In 29 innings, Mickelson has racked up 33 strikeouts, fashioning a 1.44 ERA, while allowing under a hit per inning.

But Mickelson wasn’t the only senior faced with the prospect of playing their last game.

“I had been in a slump up until the Minneota game, and I wanted to be able to pull my weight,” said senior captain Callie Coleman.

Coleman entered Saturday’s game vs. Minneota hitting at a .255 clip, below her normal .320 career average. For the senior captain, much of her batted balls were in a result of bad luck with her BABIP at .290.

Her three-hit, three-RBI contribution in the Minneota game has been the tip of the iceberg for Coleman’s performance in the playoffs as she’s been the team’s hottest hitter.

Coleman tallied 5 RBIs after both the Minneota and Morris Alberta games, and on Tuesday’s semifinal against New London-Spicer with two men on, her two-run triple sparked the Saints' 13-4 win to advance them into the loser’s bracket finals.

Since the Pipestone game, Coleman’s gone 9-12 at the plate with eight of her 10 RBI’s coming in the Saints’ four-game run to the finals.

But the playoff gene hasn’t been exclusive to the soon-to-be graduates, the Saints, underclassmen have risen to the occasion as well.

Maddie Brey’s home run vs. Minneota, Renata Hernandez’ timely hitting, Chloe Mickelson’s baserunning. At any time, any Saints player can come up with a big hit or big play that saves the season.

“Considering the circumstances of every game being our last, these girls have been so loose but so dominant on both sides of the ball,” said Baumgartner. “I’m so proud of their heart and their will to win.”

Rematch vs. Pipestone

“It’s what we’ve wanted since they beat us in April,” were the words said by senior catcher Kayla Hanson.

But underneath the casual tone of those remarks, is a clear motivation and determination - to exact revenge against a team that has been a thorn in the Saints' side this season.

After the Saints started the season 2-0, Pipestone would deliver the Saints their first two losses of the season in a doubleheader where Pipestone scored 16 runs, including a 5-0 shutout from Shelby Bloemendaal.

On May 22nd, after the Saints were able to fend off Jackson County, Pipestone played the role of spoiler, as Bloemendaal and Hannah Berg threw a combined perfect game knocking the Saints out of the winner’s bracket in the tournament's opening day.

So on Thursday, with the Saints playing their hottest baseball and Pipestone blowing their way through the tournament - the Saints are tasked with needing two straight wins to win the championship.

The Saints odds took a blow with the injury of key hitter and second baseman Renata Hernandez. Hernandez exited the Martin County West game early, injuring her knee on a slide attempt at third base. While the diagnosis on the second baseman is unknown (at the time of publication), she’s listed as questionable if the Saints were to play both games.

However, the battle will be waged on the mound. Pipestone will only need Shelby Bloemendaal to pitch one quality game to clinch the Section 3AA Championship, while the Saints need Mickelson to continue to dominant stretch.

Outside of Mickelson, Bloemendaal has been the tourney’s best pitcher as she’s thrown a no-hitter and perfect game this postseason, in addition to three complete-game shutouts.

But Mickelson and the Saints have proved they aren’t intimidated with the prospect of needing to win two games. They’ve done it on Saturday, and with a repeat performance on Tuesday - nothing is impossible on Thursday.

“We want to leave out on a positive note,” said Brooklyn Mickelson. “We came to show that Saint James Softball can get the job done.”

 

Results:
Saints 10 Minneota 0
Saints 4 Morris Area Alberta 0
Saints13 New-London Spicer 4

Saints 6, Martin County West 0