Softball: Vikings make it three straight trips to state tournament
The Hayfield softball team is headed to its third straight Minnesota Class A state softball tournament, and it’s partly due to a simple twist in fate. Literally.
Hayfield junior third baseman twisted a rare triple play to keep the Vikings ahead early on and they went on to knock off Wabasha-Kellogg 7-2 in the Section 1A title game in Todd Park Thursday.
WK (15-11 overall) trailed 2-1 in the fourth inning when it had the bases loaded and no outs when Tori Graedtke hit a line drive right at Hayfield third baseman Olivia Matti, who made the catch, tagged third base, and then threw back to second base for a triple play that gave Hayfield back the momentum.
“I’ve never had a triple play before, but it was what we needed at the time. I’m glad it happened then,” Matti said. “The main thing was that we had to all stay relaxed. We couldn’t be super stressed, we had to stay calm. We couldn’t let anything get past us, especially in the infield.”
WK also loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, but eighth grade pitcher Caitlyn Hendrickson escaped the jam by forcing a pop out and ground out. The Falcons eventually tied the game at 2-2 when they scored off an error and a wild pitch in the top of the sixth. Hayfield (18-6 overall) came back and took the lead for good in the bottom of the sixth when Kate Kruger smashed a two-run homer to left field to make it 4-2 and Kyal Heydt hit her second two-run homer of the day to make it 7-2.
“We all have a cool head and we all know what to do in these key situations,” Heydt said. “We’ve been in these tough situations many times.”
Heydt missed last season with a knee injury, but she’s had a major impact for the Vikings in the postseason. She hit 8-for-16 with five homers and 13 RBIs in the Section 1A West and Section 1A tournaments.
Heydt was a starting shortstop for Hayfield when she was a freshman, she missed the entire season last year, and she’s playing second base this season.
“It was tough [last year]. I really wanted to be out there, but I knew that I’d be back and hopefully be able help my team. I was happy for them, but it’s so much better to be out here with them,” Heydt said. “I was just really nervous in the beginning [this year] and I just didn’t want to mess up. It’s been great and I think it’s been better than my freshman year. We’ve had a lot of people supporting us.”
Hendrickson continued her streak of quality starts in the circle as she allowed just one earned run while scattering seven hits. Matti was quick to credit Hendrickson and Heydt for their performances on Thursday.
“Caitlyn did a really good job of staying relaxed and getting the ball across the plate like she needs to,” Matti said. “I’m really happy for Kyal. She’s been doing an awesome job and I know how hard she’s worked.”
Hayfield hasn’t won a game at state in the past two years, but it has 11 juniors that have a lot of tournament experience on this year’s squad. This is also the first of the three Hayfield state qualifying teams that doesn’t have any major injuries.
“I love playing with these girls. We all lift each other up and support each other and we can kind of get after each other if we need to,” Matti said. “We have a really good bond. It’s awesome.”
Hayfield will play in the state tournament June 8 against an opponent to be determined. The tournament will be seeded this year.
WK 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 — 2 7 2
Hayfield 0 0 2 0 0 5 X — 7 10 1
Hayfield pitching: Caitlyn Hendrickson (W) 7 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 K
Hayfield hitting: Carrie Rutledge, 3-for-4, triple, 2 R, SB; Jenna Jacobsen, 1-for-3, , RBI, SB, R; Kyal Heydt, 4-for-4, 2 HR, 4 RBIs, 4 R; Maggie Streightiff, 0-for-4; Olivia Matti, 0-for-3; Kelly Johnson, 1-for-3; Alexis Dudycha, 0-for-3; Kate Kruger, 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBIs, R; Jacie Gustine, 0-for-2; Hendrickson, R; Jaelynn Therring, 0-for-1