FARGO - During the Class B State Girls Softball quarterfinals against Kindred-Richland, Heart River starting pitcher Abby Kessel jammed her ankle in the third inning. She stayed in and finished the game, albeit in a losing effort.
With her team scheduled to face Thompson, the No.2 seed from the East, in a consolation semifinal, Kessel returned to the pitching circle despite being a game-time decision prior to first pitch. The junior fought her way to another complete game and even contributed half of her team's base hits.
However, the Tommies were the best team on the field, as they jumped out to an early lead before capturing a 9-4 win from Tharaldson Park on Friday, May 31.
"We didn't win, but that was one of the gutsiest performances I've ever seen out of somebody," Heart River head coach Kendra Schillo said. "Pitching in pain, man, I got to tip my cap to her. It was really impressive. We're disappointed we loss, but was quite a performance on one foot."
Kessel tossed 137 pitches and amassed 12 strikeouts. While her power was still there, the Cougars starter struggled with control, allowing six walks, a wild pitch and hitting a batter. Not on her usual A-game, she relinquished nine runs (six earned) on eight hits.
Thompson junior starting pitcher Macy Jordheim on the other hand was in firm control. She threw seven frame, giving up four runs on four hits and four walks to pick up the victory.
Heart River's biggest issue, though, was with defense. The Cougars committed four errors over the course of a game that they trailed from the outset, as the Tommies scored a run in the first, three in the third, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth.
Through two games in the tournament, Heart River has made more errors (five) than runs scored (four).
"I would say that the official scorer gave them some hits that I felt could've been errors," Schillo said. "We usually make the plays that we didn't make today, but that's just how it goes. We picked a tough time to have two of our worst games of the season."
Down 4-0 entering the bottom of the third, Heart River sophomore outfielder Jersey Filkowski got on base with a single before stealing second base. Two batters later, Kessel drove in Filkowski with an RBI single to make in 4-1.
In the next inning, the Cougars narrowed the deficit to 4-2 when a sacrifice fly from freshman Briley Boltz scored sophomore Quiahna Otero from third. That's as close as the top seed from the West would get.
On Saturday, Heart River will play Velva-Drake-Anamoose, the No. 2 seed from the West, in the seventh-place game. Kessel, again, is a game-time decision.
The Cougars defeated the Aggies twice in the regular season, in the Sub-Region 4 championship game, and most recently, in the West Region title game.
As the team's lone senior, McKenzie Buckman will play her last game for the Heart River program.
"The kids are pretty much set on sending her out with a win," Schillo said. "They are playing for each other, they are playing for Heart River, and they are playing for her to end her career with a win."
Class B State Softball Tournament - Consolation Semifinal
#2E Thompson 9, #1W Heart River 4
T 103 023 0 - 9 8 2
HR 001 100 2 - 4 4 4
T: Macy Jordheim (7.0) and catcher information not available. HR: Abby Kessel (7.0) and Mattea Binstock.
W-Jordheim. L-Kessel. HR-None.
Highlights: T: Carrie Nistler 4-4, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 R, SB; Jordheim 7 IP, 4 H, 4 BB, 4 R (3ER), 2 K, 0-3, BB; Taylor Zak 1-4, 2B, 2 RBI; Ashlyn Warcken 2-4, RBI, R. HR: Kessel 7 IP, 8 H, 6 BB, 9 R (6 ER), 12 K, 2-3, RBI; Jersey Filkowski, 1-3, R; Quiahna Otero 1-2, BB, RBI, R; Briley Boltz 0-3, RBI, R.