The Faribault Falcon softball team had a hard time getting their bats going in a 5-1 win over the Rochester Mayo Spartans at Mayo HIgh School in Rochester tonight.  McKayla Armbruster brought her consistency to the pitcher's circle with a perfect game going until the final inning of the game.

Armbruster struck out the first 10 batters she faced and had 18 strikeouts of the first 19 batters who stepped into the box before Mayo shortstop junior Bryn Carlstrom hit a solid single to left field with one out in the bottom of the 7th inning.  With two outs the Spartans #4 hitter Jade Floyd hit a perfectly placed pop up to the grass not far from the dirt in center.

Rochester Mayo junior right handed pitcher Jadyn Koestering held the Falcons without a hit for the first five innings of the game while striking out 7 of 17 batters faced.  Koestering had a very good changeup and changed locations well to keep the Faribault hitters off balance until the third time through the order.

The top of the 6th inning began with Lauren O'Neil getting the team's first hit.  Abby Lake followed with a single also and the Falcons were in business.  Ellie Knutson hit a high fly caught in center.  Armbruster had a productive ground out to the right side to advance the runners to second and third base.  Abby Van Ryn was walked on four pitches to load the bases.  Lexi Velander jumped on the first pitch hitting it toward third base scoring O'Neil.

The third baseman tried to tag Lake out going to third but the base umpire ruled she was never tagged.  Mayo Head Coach Steve Lewison came out of the dugout and asked why Lake wasn't called out for running out of the basepath.  The base umpire went to the home plate umpire and Lake was called safe.  On a 2-1 count senior right fielder Lauren Steinberg hit the no doubt grand slam homer over the left field fence which had a 202 foot sign on it.

Steinberg told me after the game it was the first home run she has ever hit.  It could not have come at a better time for Faribault.  They were really struggling to get hits.  Some of the Falcons hitters appeared to me to be anxious at the plate.  Swinging hard and pulling their head off the ball or not connecting with a level swing.  Eight Falcons came to the plate in the top of the 6th.

It was the final regular season game for Faribault.  They finish with a 18-1 record.  Armbruster had 11 shutouts, allowed 11 total runs, 6 earned.  In 139 innings the senior right handed pitcher has 292 strikeouts.  She has walked 9 batters, allowed 50 hits while going 17-1 with a save.  Armbruster racked up 18 complete games.

Coach Jesse Armbruster told me before the game the team was going to work on their small ball and they did try but could not get a bunt executed in the game.  The Falcons could not get their running game going either.  In the first inning Ellie Knutson tried to steal second without sliding and was called out.  In the third inning Lauren O'Neil was also thrown out trying to steal.  Coming into the game Faribault was 29 of 33 in stolen bases.

Rochester Mayo sophomore catcher Kendra Stevens was impressive behind the plate not only because she threw out a couple Falcons runners but scooped a lot of pitches in the dirt.

Armbruster finished the game with 89 pitches thrown, 71 for strikes.  She was 21 of 23 first pitch strikes.

Our Faribault State Farm Insurance agents Faribault players of the game were Armbruster and Steinberg.

Following the game Abby Van Ryn was presented with a poster for her accomplishment of being a part of 1,000 recorded outs in her career.  She was presented with a ball from her battery mate McKayla Armbruster.

Faribault begins their Section 2 Class 3A competition next Thursday.  It's a double elimination tournament from the start at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

Rochester Mayo is in Section 1 Class 4A and their coach told me they will definitely be on the road.  Their section plays the first two rounds at the high seed and then goes to Austin.

The latest state rankings also came out from the Minnesota Softball Coaches Association.  The top four in Class 3A remain unchanged with Mankato West, Faribault, Northfield and Winona in the top four spots.  Mankato East drops from #9 to #10.  New Ulm is in the same section with East, West and Faribault and jumps from #10 to #7.