Big inning proves fatal for Raiders in 10-4 loss

By Travis Rosenau

Journal Sports Writer

NICOLLET — Cleveland’s hot bats in the fifth inning were enough to come back and take down Nicollet in a Section 2A softball playoff game on Thursday.

The No. 5-seeded Clippers defeated the No. 4-seeded Raiders 10-4.

Nicollet (13-8) took two of three regular-season games against Cleveland (12-6). But the Clippers came through in the clutch when they needed it most.

McKenna Robb got the win for the Clippers with a complete seven innings pitched, allowing four runs on five walks and seven hits. She struck out three.

Hannah Beckius received the no-decision for the Raiders in five innings pitched. She allowed six runs, while striking out eight and walking six. Halle Johnson received the loss for the Raiders, allowing four runs without recording an out.

The Raiders took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on an RBI base hit by Nicole Hall. They extended their lead to 3-0 in the third on a wild pitch that scored a run and an RBI base hit by Anna Holmin.

Holmin led the Raiders with a 2-for-3 day at the plate and two RBIs.

With Nicollet leading 3-1 heading into the fifth inning, things were looking good for it. But a nine-run inning by Cleveland turned things around fast. The inning included a brief pitching change from Beckius to Johnson, then back to Beckius to escape the inning.

“As soon as one pitcher does start struggling a little bit — whether it’s finding the zone, whether maybe she thinks it’s a strike and the ump doesn’t — I do like to switch up pitchers just to mix it up and see if something else can be generated,” Nicollet coach Brianne Eldred said. “Hannah does do a really nice job. She had 80 strikeouts coming into this game and added even a few more to that. Pitching — if anybody is struggling — I just try and switch it up to see if I can get anything else going.”

The Clippers had nine hits that inning, led by back-to-back homers by Lily Hollerich and Robb. Hollerich’s homer was a two-run dinger to center field, while Robb’s homer was a solo shot.

Nicollet added one more run in the sixth inning, but it wasn’t enough to start a rally. Cleveland out-hit Nicollet 12 hits to seven in the game, mainly in thanks to the big fifth inning.

Eldred wants to see her team focused and ready to play on Saturday.

“It’s definitely all about that attitude,” Eldred said. “‘Are you going to come to the game ready?’ ‘Is your mind right?’ ‘Are you going to be cheering the entire time?’ Anything that is that mental, emotional aspect of health is something that they need to come with on Saturday.”

Nicollet will play No. 8-seeded Sleepy Eye at 10 a.m. Saturday at Caswell Park on Field 3.