The Faribault Falcon fastpitch softball team beat the defending State Champion and top ranked Winona Winhawks 3-2 in Faribault today.  It took longer for the Winhawks to drive to Faribault then it did to play the game because both pitchers were aggressive and did not walk anyone.  Faribault junior McKayla Armbruster had 8 strikeouts and Winona junior Annika Anderson collected 10 strikeouts in the game.  Both are right handed pitchers.

Anderson dominated early, striking out eight of the first nine batters she faced and appeared to overpower the hitters who had a hard time laying off her rising fastball.  Armbruster struck out five of the first ten batters she faced and it looked like it was going to be one of those classic pitcher battles.  Winona's first base runner came in the top of the second when cleanup hitter Lauryn Hamernik (what a great name for a cleanup hitter) hit a ground ball to short and senior Bre Bresnahan charged it properly but appeared to rush her throw and it sailed wide of first base.  Armbruster struck out the next two batters and got a pop up to keep Hamernik's courtesy runner at first base.

In the top of the fourth inning Winhawk pitcher Annika Anderson smashed the ball to right field for a triple and Hamernik lifted a 1-2 pitch to the outfield to score Anderson's courtesy runner and take the 1-0 lead.

The Falcons answered in the bottom of the fourth after a bunt attempt by senior center fielder Ali Schak resulted in a comeback grounder to the pitcher and Anderson recorded her 9th strikeout of the first 11 batters faced.  It was like the Falcons flipped a switch and adjusted to the hard throwing Anderson the rest of the way.  On a 0-1 count Bresnahan almost hit a home run, the ball smacked the fence on the fly in right field and she coasted in for a two out triple.  Fellow senior Cassie Swanson took a 1-2 pitch and also hit the ball to the opposite field for a double scoring Bresnahan to tie the game.  Junior catcher Abby Van Ryn pulled a solid single to left to score Swanson and with three swings of the bat Faribault had a 2-1 lead.

Falcon junior third baseman Ellie Knutson executed a superb bunt to lead off the fifth inning and stole second base (her team leading 4th of the season) and Faribault  looked like they were going to add to their lead.  Following a fly out and strikeout Schak jumped on the first pitch from Anderson and crushed the ball to left center for an RBI double giving the Falcons a 3-1 lead.

All of Faribault's runs were scored with two outs.

The Winhawks didn't get to be state champs by rolling over though and following a lead off single on a full count by number two hitter junior Samantha Iverson, Armbruster got the number 3 and 4 hitters to fly out with one pitch each.  Freshman shortstop Paige Grafton had a solid soaring double to the left center gap and it was 3-2.

In the seventh inning Armbruster coaxed a ground out, then got her eighth strikeout before Winona's number nine hitter, senior third baseman Falon Goede hit a lazy fly ball to center that was easily caught by Shak and the Falcons remain unbeaten in the Big Nine.

Armbruster threw 87 pitches in her 7 innings of work, 63 for strikes and allowed 5 hits in the game but only one multi-hit inning.

Faribault collected six hits off Anderson and had two multi-hit innings resulting in their three runs.  It appeared the Falcons adjusted well to what was a dominating rising fastball and attacked the pitch with some good swings.

Anderson threw 84 pitches, 59 for strikes.

For the first time in the Faribault games I've seen Armbruster threw three changeups to the same batter in an at bat.  Number nine hitter Goede battled and battled before getting the first hit of the game on the seventh pitch of her at bat with one out in the third inning.  Goede did not advance after a strikeout and line out.

It was hard choosing our Faribault State Farm Insurance agents Faribault players of the game courtesy of Faribault State Farm agents Tony Langerud and Jason Krohn so gave the award to six Falcons.  Armbruster, Schak, Bresnahan, Swanson, Van Ryn and Knutson.

Swanson was the only Falcon with two hits in the game.

Mankato West defeated Mankato East 6-1 today to keep pace with Faribault, still one game behind the Falcons in the Big Nine Conference standings.

The Falcons have a doubleheader Tuesday beginning at 4:00 p.m. with state ranked Northfield at Alexander park. Play another doubleheader with an Owatonna team that defeated the Winhawks in Winona last Saturday 3-2 in ten innings before closing their conference season against Mankato West on the road.

Winona drops to 7-5 with three straight losses and Faribault is now 10-1 and 8-0 in the Big Nine.

Faribault Catcher's Mitt- photo by Gordy Kosfeld