High school softball: Brookings Bobcats earn berth in state tournament following a perfect afternoon

The Brookings Bobcats celebrate with the Class AA state participant trophy after defeating the Douglas Scoopers in a SoDak 16 game at Southbrook Softball Complex in Brookings on Tuesday afternoon. The Bobcats will take part in the inaugural SDHSAA tournament in Aberdeen beginning June 1. (Chris Schad/Brookings Register)

BROOKINGS — Gracie Adamson threw a perfect game and hit a two-run homer in the first inning to help the Brookings Bobcats defeat Sturgis 11-0 in five innings in a Class AA SoDak 16 game on Tuesday afternoon.

The win sends the Bobcats to the inaugural SDHSAA Class AA State Softball Tournament in Aberdeen where Brookings will battle for a state championship. While any trip to the state tournament is special, Brookings head coach Emma Hardin noted there was an extra reason to cherish this one in softball’s first year as a sanctioned sport.

“It is so exciting for this inaugural team to make it to state,” Hardin said after the win. “It’s awesome and I’m so happy for the girls. … You can tell they’re pretty excited. They’re extremely excited and I think they work so well together that they’re definitely just playing for each other.”

Tuesday’s win highlighted many of the reasons the Bobcats came into the SoDak 16 with a 13-3 record and the third seed in the Class AA tournament. One of those reasons was the play of Adamson, who got the job done in the circle and at the plate.

Adamson was dominant on the mound tossing five perfect innings and striking out 11 batters, but her stat line didn’t do her performance justice. The Scoopers rarely made contact against Adamson and Sturgis didn’t hit a ball out of the infield all afternoon.

While Adamson’s pitching performance was impressive so was her at-bat in the first inning. After Kymber Buys opened the scoring with an RBI single, Adamson delivered the big blow with a two-run homer that gave the Bobcats a 3-0 lead.

“Gracie is definitely someone who gets the girls going,” Hardin said of Adamson, who also finished with two walks on the afternoon. “She could do it on both sides of the plate. She gets it done in the circle. When we need a clutch hit or someone to get us going, she does that as well. She did a little bit of everything today.”

The Bobcats expanded their lead later in the game thanks to their aggressiveness on the basepaths. Morgan Norgaard led off the top of the third inning with a double and scored on a wild pitch in the next at-bat. Brookings runners also made a habit of taking the extra base when it was available, plating another run on a fielder’s choice to go ahead 5-0.

“I thought we did really well on the bases,” Hardin said. “We kind of talked about how we needed to just go out there and play right away and not even let them in the gaem. I thought they did that really well and were able to take the free bases.”

Kylie Moe plated another run on a bases-loaded walk and Morgan Pantzke added a two-run single to make it 8-0. Another run scored on an error to cap off a six-run third inning and the Bobcats added two more runs off errors in the bottom of the fourth. Morgan Linstad also went 3-for-3 with a double while Norgaard went 2-for-3 with a double and two runs scored to help the Bobcats punch their ticket to state.

Although it was a perfect afternoon for the Bobcats, they know there is work to be done.

“There’s definitely things we can work on, but we’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing all season up until the state tournament.”

Brookings will open the state tournament with a quarterfinal matchup against No. 6 seeded O’Gorman at Koehler Hall of Fame Field in Aberdeen on June 1 at 5:30 p.m. The Knights beat the Bobcats 1-0 in the two teams only meeting of the season on May 9 in Brookings.