Freshman softball player saves state title win twice with wild over-the-fence grabs

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

What’s better than one over-the-fence, home run-stealing catch in a playoff game? How about two over-the-fence, home run-robbing catches by the same player?

That’s precisely what happened in Minnesota, where a freshman softball outfielder stole two game-winning home runs from her opponent and scored her team’s state title-winning run to boot.

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As reported by the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Twin Cities CBS affiliate WCCO, Elk River (Minn.) High freshman outfielder Jayme Langbehn pulled in not one but two otherworldly catches during the state’s Class 3A state title game, helping her squad to a 4-3 victory and their second state title in four years.

The first over-the-fence grab came in the bottom of the sixth inning, with the game tied 3-3. A Prior Lake (Minn.) High batter stroked a pitch from Elk River ace Anna Pipenhagen deep to center. With the ball heading over the fence, Langbehn refused to give up, instead extending her arm over the fence … and then falling over the fence herself. Langbehn’s right foot dangled over the temporary soft fence throughout her tumble, keeping her within the dimensions of the field until after the out was safely recorded and the go-ahead home run was instead officially ruled a very long out (that may be the difference between Langbehn’s grab and the one pulled in a week earlier by East Setauket (N.Y.) Ward Melville High outfielder Greg Coman).

“I’m like, ‘Yeah…Jayme, somehow jump over the fence, catch that’ – and she did, and I just can’t believe it,” Pipenhagen told WCCO.

The game remained tied through the following inning, sending the title game into extra frames. That’s where Langbehn came through on offense, scoring the Elks’ go-ahead run in the top of the eighth inning when teammate Courtney Jensen delivered a crisply hit RBI single. Langbehn rushed home from second and beat a dagger of a throw to the plate with an aggressive slide, giving her team a lead that would stick.

That run and the earlier catch qualify as plenty heroic enough for most players, but Langbehn instead had one final act. Her coup de grace came in the final half of an inning, when a different Prior Lake batter tried to extend the game again by drilling yet another shot to deep center field. Langbehn again found a way to bring in an athletic, over-the-fence grab to seal the victory, sending the teen and her teammates into celebratory hysterics as a result.

Jayme Langbehn, second from left, celebrates Elk River's state title — St. Paul Pioneer Press
Jayme Langbehn, second from left, celebrates Elk River's state title — St. Paul Pioneer Press

The softball snowconed in Langbehn’s glove on her final grab, as if to prolong the drama delivered by the freshman in her final game of the season. Fittingly, she had just enough magic to hold on for herself and her team.

While Langbehn deserves all the credit for her miraculous catches, her coach may have set her up for success better than most could have. Elk River coach Stacey Sheetz told WCCO that her team had practiced how to handle soft fences during the week anticipating that just such a play could have popped up in the title game.

To think that it would have come up twice, and to the same person in nearly the exact same spot, was something that even Sheetz could never have foreseen.

“We actually practiced this week because of these fences,” Sheetz told WCCO. “So we actually practiced a little bit, how to find that fence and try to stay in.

“[Langbehn is] just an all-around player. She’s got speed, she’s got the glove, she’s got, you know, amazing hits. And yeah, we need her all for everything.”

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