Rushford-Peterson ends Blooming Prairie#039;s travels

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 30, 2002

The road Blooming Prairie needed to travel to reach the Class A state softball tournament was a long and ragged path, littered with adversity every step of the way. But the Blossoms -- having mapped the course a year ago -- almost made it through.

It took two runs in the bottom of the seventh inning for Rushford-Peterson to prevent Blooming Prairie from taking another step towards its destination in a 5-4 Trojan victory in the Section 1A losers' bracket finals Tuesday at Todd Park in Austin.

Blooming Prairie had already been battered by the Trojans, losing 10-3 to R-P in the opening round of Section 1A play. The 10th-ranked Blossoms bounced back to upend sixth-rated Lyle/Pacelli in their first losers' bracket match, but lost their starting catcher and vocal leader along the way.

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Senior Maggie Romeo's last game in a Blooming Prairie uniform was a 9-8 victory over Lyle/Pacelli, but her loss was Rushford-Peterson's gain. The Trojans took advantage of a Blossom team lessened offensively by a missing leadoff hitter, and R-P pitcher Denise Jacobsen limited Blooming Prairie to four hits.

"A lot of teams could have given up," said Blossom coach Chad Gimbel. "We just didn't reach what we wanted to get to. The season's not disappointing, but not making it to state was disappointing. These girls have a lot to be proud of."

Rushford-Peterson ripped the road out from under Blooming Prairie's feet, scoring twice in the bottom of the last inning to take the 5-4 triumph. No. 8 hitter Katy Drinkall led off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Mackenzie Halverson, and scored on a hit by Ashley Owens.

Owens proceeded to steal second, took third on a wild pitch, and scored the game-winner on a single by Leah Rislove.

"Give them credit because they earned all the runs in that last inning," Coach Gimbel said.

Blooming Prairie had already traveled the comeback path, scoring twice in the top of the sixth to steal a 4-3 lead. Rachel Stenzel was hit by a pitch, and pinch-runner Mindy Johnson moved around the bases on a Kristi Schwake sacrifice and a single to left by Rachel Long. Long took second on the throw home and stole third before Kristin Lueth drove her home with an infield single.

A steady rain in the first inning could not keep Blooming Prairie from scoring the game's breakthrough run. Amanda Herdina reached with a one-out slap bunt and scored on Abbey Bergstrom's triple to deep center field, and Stenzel's suicide squeeze attempt was foiled only by a wild pitch and Bergstrom scored nonetheless.

But just as the Blossoms' early 3-0 lead was not enough in the first meeting with Rushford-Peterson, Tuesday's advantage sparked the Trojans just the same. R-P assembled five runs off nine hits against Bergstrom, who struck out five in her final game.

Blooming Prairie ended the season 16-6.

Call Ross Thede at 434-2234 or e-mail him at