Softball action is heavy on the eastern Iron Range

Action was hot and heavy in softball and baseball action in the Virginia area recently.

MOUNTAIN IRON — The Virginia and Mountain Iron-Buhl 18U softball teams split a pair of games Monday night in Mountain, with the devils coming out on top of game 1, 6-1, and the Rangers winning the second game, 8-7.

In game one, the Devils got put up a strong showing at the plate, in the circle and on the base paths as they shut down the Rangers to win, 6-1.

Pitching for the Blue Devils, Maddy Lampton got the win for Virginia on the mound, pitching a complete-game six innings. She surrendered one run on three hits and four walks while striking out six.

At the plate, the Devils were quiet in the first inning, but got things going in the second to take a lead they would never give up.

With one out in the top of the second, Janie Potts doubled to get into scoring position. She then moved herself to third after the MI-B defense threw out Elsie Hyppa at first on a fielder’s choice.

Next up, Hailey Chavers singled to bring Potts home to give Virginia a 1-0 lead that they took into the third inning.

The Devils added two more runs in the away half of the third and kicked things off with a single to center field from Lampton.

Pinch running for Lampton, Krystal Swanberg stole her way to second and then advanced to third on an error all in the same play. She was brought home on the next at-bat with Megan Kingston rocketing an RBI double to make it a 2-0 game in favor of Virginia.

In another favorable base-running opportunity, Kingston advanced to third and then stole her way home on another Rangers throwing error that allowed Virginia to go up 3-0 on Mountain Iron-Buhl.

Rangers pitcher Abby White was able to stop the bleeding from there and end the inning shortly after.

The Devils weren’t done yet as they added another run in the top half of the fourth.

Hyppa reached on a single to lead things off and then stole her way to second on the very next pitch. A batter later, she stole again to get to third and then was driven home on an RBI single from Mary Skorich, making it 4-0 in favor of the Devils.

Skorich stole her way around the bases on the next few at-bats but White grabbed a pair of key strikeouts to end the inning.

Virginia kept the offense rolling in the top half of the fifth and got into favorable base-running position early again. Anneka Lundgren reached on a leadoff walk and then stole her way to second before Jayda Westerbur moved to first after also being walked.

Lundgren made her way home thanks to a strong single to center from Madeline Potts to make it 5-0 game.

Runners on first and second, Westerbur made her way to third after an MI-B error allowed her to advance comfortably with one out recorded. Westerbur then scored from third thanks to a well placed single to left-center field from Hyppa.

Down 6-0 heading into the home half of the fifth, the Rangers got enough offense going to score a run of their own.

Cece Schneider reached after being hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. She moved to second on a single to right from Julia Knapper. A double from Desiree Milton looked to score Schneider, but the Virginia throw to home made it just on time, recording the out but putting runners at second and third.

One batter later, a wild pitch from Lampton allowed Knapper to come home and score, getting the Rangers on the board, 6-1.

Unfortunately for MI-B, that was all they could muster as a scoreless sixth inning made way for the 6-1 Virginia win.

After the game, Devils coach Tony Potts said he was pleased all around with the performance of his team.

“The girls were seeing the ball well tonight,” Potts said. “They’ve been playing now since April or so, so they’re hitting well and doing what we need them to do on offense.”

On the performance of Lampton, an incoming senior at Hibbing who plays with Virginia in the summer, Potts was impressed with her strong performance in the circle.

“She was great out there for us. She did everything we asked of her.”

With months of softball in the books, Potts says a key to success during Virginia’s 18U season is to keep things light and not so serious during games.

“Like I said, these girls have been playing for months now and they know what we expect of them but they’re also out here to have fun and work on a few things to help get ready for next year.”

Game 2

Mountain Iron-Buhl 8,

Virginia 7

In game 2, the Rangers bats picked back up and a solid pitching performance from Cece Schneider allowed MI-B to hold on for an 8-7 win over the Devils.

Mountain Iron-Buhl took an early 1-0 lead in the second inning before the Devils tied it up in the third. From there, Virginia added four runs of their own in the fourth inning to go up 5-1.

Avoiding a repeat of the first game, the Rangers bounced back and added seven runs in the fifth inning thanks to some timely hitting and some walks from the Devils pitcher.

Tied at six in the fifth, Grace Phenning blasted a single into center field that scored two MI-B runs that made it 8-6 in favor of the Rangers. Virginia added one more run in their last half inning, but it wasn’t enough as the Rangers completed the comeback, winning 8-7.

After the game, MI-B coach Jesse White said he was pleased with his team’s turnaround.

“We got the bats going late in the first game and really kept it going throughout the second game,” White said. “Ultimately, we’re trying to work on some things in the summer. We’re approaching it with the ‘we want to win’ attitude but as long as we’re working on some things and getting better for the school year, we’re fine.”

Virginia softball will be in action next Monday at Cherry, while the Rangers are set to host Two Harbors.

AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL

Esko 8,

Virginia 7

At Esko, American Legion Post 239 lost in a nailbiter Monday, 8-7 in eight innings, to Post 262.

Ryan Hujanen, Daniel Moore and Austin Harvey pitched for Virginia. At the dish, Virginia had hits from Jack Perala, Nick Peters, Landin McCarty, Tommy Nemanich, Hujanen and Moore.

Virginia hosts Aurora at 7:15 p.m. tonight at Stock Field in Virginia.

JUNIOR AMERICAN LEGION BASEBALL

Esko 13,

Virginia 3

At Esko, Virginia got hits from Tommy Nemanich and Ryan Hujanen, but it wasn’t enough as the home team grabbed the 13-3 victory.

On the mound, Mason Carlson pitched 5 1/3 innings, allowing four earned runs. Joey Pucel came on in relief for Virginia.

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