By Trevor Stone

The Yellowjackets had a stellar Saturday of baseball, sweeping Crown College at home to advance them in their hopes to scoring a trip to the UMAC Tournament for the second year in a row. A steady offense, a strong bullpen, and intense energy from the bench helped the team break through their midseason rut.

Saturday, the Yellowjackets showed their support for Breast Cancer Awareness by wearing pink hats during the game. Coming into the match-up, Crown was positioned at third in the conference, while the Jackets were stuck in the sixth spot. The tables would soon turn, as the Jackets completed the sweep.

Game one was well-played all around for the Jackets. Senior, Richard VandenBranden would be tagged with the win as he went five and two-thirds, allowing two earned runs, striking out five and walking three. The bullpen was held a strong hold on Crown as they couldn’t muster up any runs off freshman, Zach Bennet, and seniors, Chad Patko and Grant Schneider.

As for the offense, sophomore Matthew Boyde came through in the clutch leading the team in hits with two, and driving in three runs. Runs were scattered all over the board throughout the game. The Jackets maintained a steady approach at the plate, until the bats exploded in the bottom of the seventh inning scoring three to put the Jackets up and they would cease to look back.

Crown came out swinging in game two. They touched up the Yellowjackets’ starter Trevor Stone, as he would only go four innings on the day. He gave up five earned runs on six
hits. He struck out three and walked three. Freshman, Elliot Danhoff, came in for relief and impressed throwing three and one-third innings, striking out four and walking five.

The Yellowjackets’ offense was off to a slow start as they were no-hit through the first six innings. They would score two runs in the bottom of the seventh, showing some life. It was in the bottom of the eighth where the offense blew up. They scored six runs on six hits. Senior, Nik Mattson led the team in hits with two while driving in three runs and scoring a run himself. The Jackets showed patience at the plate, and timely hitting put them ahead late in the game.

The Jackets faced the Macalester Scots on Sunday in St. Paul. They split the series, winning the first game and losing the second. The score of the first game was 7-5 the game went to ten innings. The winning pitcher was Brady Stocker, as Ryan Rukavina got the save. In game two, the Yellowjackets’ momentum stayed with them and they put up five runs in the first two innings. The Scots would answer back with a big seven-run inning. The Jackets came close to tying, but they couldn’t pull it off. The final score of game two was 7-8.

The Yellowjackets had a scheduled game against Northwestern, but bad weather in Superior caused the games to be postponed. The make-up date is still to be determined. The next scheduled game is in Mankato against Bethany Lutheran on Sat, Apr. 29. First pitch is to be thrown at 1:30 p.m.

The Yellowjackets had a conference showdown with Bethany Lutheran in Mankato, Minn. on Sat, Apr. 22. They would split on the day with a 4-3 loss in game one, and a 4-0 shutout victory in game two.

Bethany Lutheran would do the scoring first, scoring one run in the first inning, then another in the fourth. The offense was rather silent for Jackets in the first six frames. They wouldn’t go down without a fight however, after stringing together three runs in the seventh. Nobody had more than one hit, but sophomore, Bailey Armstrong did the damage with a two-run
homerun. The Jackets had a strong seventh inning, but Martin Luther was ready to fight back in the bottom of the inning.

The Jackets were able to keep the damage limited as senior pitcher Sarah Hendrickson was calm and composed on the mound as she threw six solid innings. She allowed only one earned run on six hits while walking none and striking out two. She was relieved in the last inning by freshman, Megan Pehrson. She would be tagged with the loss as she gave up two runs while walking three and giving up one hit. It was a walk-off victory for Martin Luther.

Game two was a different story. The Jackets would score in three out of the seven innings, while Martin Luther would fail to score at all. Megan Pehrson would atone for her game one mishaps, going seven strong, shutout innings, striking out four, walking one, and giving up four hits.

The Yellowjacket offense was on a tear, capitalizing on errors, and getting timely hits. Junior, Katie White led the team with two hits and driving in one run. Bailey Armstrong, Ciarra Taipale who scored, and Saige Patrick who also scored a run, had their own share of hits for the Jackets. It was a solid offensive game for the ladies, while their defense and pitching capitalized as well.

The Yellowjackets are still in the playoff race, and have a crucial match-up coming this weekend against North Central. The game is set for Sat, Apr. 29 at 1:00 p.m. at Liebart Field in Superior.

Track & Field
The Yellowjackets were off to the races Friday night in La Crosse as they competed in the Phil Esten Challenge. The women placed 15th in the competition, while the men would proceed to finish eighth.

Several top-ten finishes were accomplished by both the men and women in the meet. Senior, Sara Schield ran her career best time for the 5000-meterrun while coming in 10th. Kelli Praska finished seventh in the 800-meter run going 2:18.62. Sophomore, Ali Manthey placed 10th in the 3000-meter run while posting a time of 13:03.63. Junior thrower Taylor Phillips continues to impress for the women’s throwers as she finished 12th in shot put, chucking it a distance of 12.02 meters.

As for the men, there were multiple top-ten awards given to the throwers. Thomas Udenberg placed fourth in shot put, with a long toss of 15.25 meters. Sophomore C.J. Pillath finished seventh in shot put throwing it 14.19 meters. Pillath tossed the hammer a personal best, 47.47 meters, but would come in ninth in that competition. Fauston Witz would just surpass him by placing eighth with a hammer toss of 48.10 meters. Both Noah Potratz and Joe Olinger displayed their talents with the javelin throw. Potratz finished third, launching it 50.33 meters. Olinger was close behind him finishing fifth with a toss of 45.21 meters. There were two top-ten finishers on the track, including junior, Jordan Koski, and freshman, Harrison Hirsch. Koski would finish fourth in the steeplechase with a time of 9:45.07. Hirsch finished seventh in the 5000-meter run with a time of 16:06.73.

The Yellowjacket men’s track will be back in action on Thursday, Apr. 27 at Macalester for the Bolstorff Twilight Men’s Meet, set to begin at 5:00 p.m. Both men’s and women’s team will be competing on Sat, Apr. 29, at the Saint Mary’s University Cardinal Open in Winona, Minn. It is set to begin at 10:30 a.m.

Women’s Golf
The Yellowjackets finished off their 2016-17 season at River Falls on Saturday, finishing second in the Falcon Classic. The ladies accomplished a fifth and sixth place finish, while River Falls held the first four spots in the tournament. The Jackets would take second in the invitational behind the Falcons.

Freshman, Paige Miller shot a 91, earning her fifth place. Another Jacket, freshman, Ally Busick earned sixth, shooting 95. With a beautiful day for golf and a solid outing, the Jackets concluded their season, showing optimism for the seasons to come.

The Yellowjackets accomplished top-three finishes in 10 of their events this season, which also included six second-place finishes. The Jackets will strive to return to the UMAC tournament in the fall, as they try to take the UMAC title for the second year in a row.