Kate Hanson stepped up to the plate late in the fifth inning.
It didn’t matter that her Princeton Tigers’ softball team was losing 21-0 to Blaine and that the game would end at the end of the inning because of the 10-run rule.
Hanson stared down Blaine pitcher Lauren Anderson’s pitch and, with a crack of the bat, sent the ball sailing over the head of the Bengals’ left fielder.
The ball hit the ground and rolled towards the left field fence. Hanson ran and ran until she scored an inside-the-park home run — the Tigers only run of their nonconference season opener.
“I was going to run until somebody told me to stop,” Hanson said after the game.
The thing is, nobody ever told her to stop. As she ran to first base, she recalled having no idea where the ball was because it was not in her line of sight as she ran down the first baseline. It was when she rounded first that she knew she might have a hit that was something special.
“I looked up and got a glimpse of left field,” Hanson recalled. “The left fielder was running backwards (towards the fence), and I knew that was good.
As Hanson approached third base, the decision was made to not let up.
“I saw Chuck (asst. coach Chuck Young) waving me in,” she said.
“That was the fastest I’ve ever run before. I was nearly out of breath when I got home,” she said.
As coach Mandee Allen said, “It was a great hit!”
The home run was the first career home run for the senior left fielder and the first highlight for the home team Tigers. Hanson led off the fifth inning with the home run, the Tigers’ first hit of the game. An inning earlier, senior third baseman Haley Ostendorf reached base on a single and later stole second base before the Princeton side was retired to end the game.
It was a rough opener for Princeton on the defensive side of the ball, too.
The Tigers helped Blaine out with 10 errors, three of which came at the glove of second baseman Tobi Turpin and two from Chelsea Lindquist. Hanson, Katelyn Vickers, Sam Hunn and Renee Luedke were also credited with errors — many of which involved balls hitting gloves for apparent outs before popping out and hitting the ground.
The Princeton girls were limited to just 17 plate appearances, going three and out in the first four innings. Blaine’s Anderson held Princeton batters to a .118 batting average while recording four strikeouts.
The Tigers gave up one run in the first inning, six in the second, five in the third, three in the fourth and another six runs in the fifth inning.
Senior pitcher Samantha Hanus gave up 16 hits and four walks in five innings. She had two strikeouts.
Blaine batters had a .419 batting average against Hanus, who finished the game with a 7.00 ERA.
The girls host St. Cloud Cathedral tonight at 5 p.m. at the Mark Park softball complex. They are then on the road Friday at Monticello before traveling to Little Falls next Tuesday. The girls are home again next Thursday when they host Milaca in a 5 p.m. game.