Bulldogs bite Beavers, sweep 2-game set in BSU's home opener

Apr. 2—BEMIDJI — The home-opening softball doubleheader between Bemidji State and Minnesota Duluth came with some teachable moments.

The Bulldogs swept the Beavers in a pair of seven-inning tilts by scores of 7-0 and 7-4. Despite their on-field shortcomings, BSU head coach Jordan Peterson was encouraged by the Beavers' response after being shut out to open the two-game set.

"In between games, I challenged them to (score in the first inning)," Peterson said. "Let's set the tempo right away and score. They rose up to that challenge. Granted, the (final) score wasn't what we wanted in the end, but we responded, and we accomplished the little things."

Bemidji State took its first lead of the day in the bottom of the first inning. Alexa Christenson hit a leadoff single before advancing to second base on a fielder's choice. She later scored on Molly Houts' single, giving the Beavers a 1-0 lead.

Nicole Schmidt thought she tied the game for the Bulldogs with a solo home run in the top of the second inning. However, she did not touch second base during her home run trot and recorded an out after Bemidji State appealed.

UMD (23-10, 4-4 NSIC) tacked on four runs before the top of the second inning finished. Dea Deleon drove in two with a double before Kiana Bender belted a two-run shot to take a 4-1 lead.

BSU (8-23, 2-6 NSIC) made a baserunning blunder of its own in the bottom of the third inning. Christenson attempted to tag up on an outfield fly ball but left early, ending the frame with a force out at second base.

"Personally, I didn't think Alexa left early," Peterson said. "But again, it goes back to seeing the ball first. Early in the year, we were getting picked off on a lot of line drives. You have to go back to the basics of seeing the ball get through (the infield). Same thing for them when they missed that home run. You could see them almost stomping on every base. They're teaching moments to make sure they don't just do the big things, but also the small things, too."

BSU tied the game in the bottom of the fourth inning. Morgan Benedict made it 4-2 with a sacrifice fly before Grace Gumiela brought two more home with a single.

Houts scored on the sacrifice fly unconventionally. The throw from right field beat her to the plate, but the run counted after the umpire ruled UMD catcher Kate Mohr blocked Houts' lane to score the run.

"The rules are constantly changing for us," Peterson said. "Last year, the obstruction rule was a little different. Now, it's a little more clear-cut for the umpires to make that obstruction call. For us, it's about teaching them to do things the right way. We need to make sure our catchers have the ball first. It's a learning curve for everybody, even as a coach."

Minnesota Duluth pulled away in the late innings. Kate Burkhardt put the Bulldogs ahead 6-4 with a two-run blast over the right-centerfield wall in the fifth inning. Bender made it 7-4 with a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

The Beavers struggled to string together hits in the first game against the Bulldogs. BSU got on base six times with four singles and two walks. All six runners were left stranded in a 7-0 loss.

"Hitting is contagious," Peterson said. "That's what we showed in (game two) compared to the first game where we didn't have the hits."

On the other hand, UMD's offense rolled. All but one Minnesota Duluth batter reached base, including Burkhardt's home run and RBI triples from Bender and Khendal Johnson.

NSIC Preseason Pitcher of the Year Lauren Dixon threw a gem in the circle, striking out seven batters in five innings.

"Dixon is one of the best pitchers in the conference," Peterson said. "This year, compared to last year, we didn't strike out against her as much. But you still have to tip your hat to a good pitcher. She did a great job."

Minnesota Duluth 7, Bemidji State 0

UMD 200 014 0 — 7-11-0

BSU 00 00 0 — 0-4-0

WP: Dixon (5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 E, 1 BB, 7 K)

LP: Dolan (5 IP, 11 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 3 K)

Minnesota Duluth 7, Bemidji State 4

UMD 040 021 0 — 7-11-0

BSU 100 300 0 — 4-7-0

WP: Walsh (5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K)

LP: Sarff (0.1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K)