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Titans beat Roseau to celebrate Blackduck Legion softball’s inaugural games

Titans beat Roseau to celebrate Blackduck Legion softball’s inaugural games

BLACKDUCK — When Kenley Anderson graduated from Blackduck High School this spring, she figured it would be her last game on the school’s softball field.

But Wednesday night gave her another chance to make it two wins on home turf – in a different jersey.

“It was a really good feeling, especially since it was my last home game since I was a senior this year for Blackduck,” Anderson said. “To win another game on that field was really awesome.”

The Bemidji American League softball team took a quick trip to Blackduck to take on Roseau, giving a group of girls a chance to play in their city’s first Legion softball games.

“We have five players from Blackduck here,” head coach Sylvia Grimm said. “I came and watched (in the spring) and thought, ‘Why don’t we play here?’ It’s a great facility, the kids are amazing, the parents are supportive — I mean, the community came out, that’s what it’s all about. It was a no-brainer.”

The Titans won all matches in the series, winning 4-0 in the first match and 3-1 in the second.

Bemidji’s Maureen Stroeing (5) strikes out a runner during a game against Roseau on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at Blackduck softball fields.

Alex Faber / Bemidji Pioneer

Anderson hit a power single in the first game and was the catcher for both winning Bemidji pitchers in the doubleheader.

The jersey may say Bemidji, but the Titans are made up of players from all over the region. The five Blackduck players on the team are a big part of those transplants, drawn to Bemidji by the chance to continue playing softball in the summer. The Titans also have Waabi Wagner from Northome/Kelliher and Jillian Pulkrabek from Sacred Heart on the roster.

Bemidji heads to the dugout in the bottom of the inning of a game against Roseau on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at Blackduck Softball Field.

Alex Faber / Bemidji Pioneer

“It’s really exciting, especially since we’re different schools,” Anderson said. “We have a ton of girls all over the place, and it’s just cool to see us all come together and just play the game.”

Even though they come from different cities, the girls united as one team and created one of the strongest teams in the region.

“It’s ‘I don’t care where you played in the spring, he’s my teammate and I’ll do whatever I can for them,’ and that’s special,” Grimm said. “I can try to force it, but it’s not the coaching staff’s fault, it’s the girls’ fault.”

The mix of talent is certainly one of the Titans’ strengths, but Wednesday night’s wins in Blackduck were a little more special for those playing in their hometown. It was fitting that Blackduck pitcher Anna Swedberg picked up the first win. She threw all five innings in a game-winning triumph.

“I felt comfortable,” Swedberg said. “I felt at home.”

Bemidji’s Anna Swedberg (7) throws a ball during a game against Roseau Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at the Blackduck softball field.

Alex Faber / Bemidji Pioneer

Swedberg made quick work of his opponent, recording six strikeouts and allowing just four hits in five scoreless innings.

“Anna has found her rhythm this spring and I can’t even explain it,” Grimm said. “It’s confidence. It’s fluid, it’s poetic. She just knows she can do it. It’s like a fairy tale. She comes here and gets her first win in the Blackduck softball Legion (story).”

Aleah Shogren, the starting pitcher for Game 2, also had an impressive showing in the circle. While she’s not one of the players from Blackduck, she helped earn the Titans their second win in the city with 10 strikeouts and just one run allowed.

Jessa Anderson was another Blackduck native who contributed to the two wins, recording a hit, a walk and a pair of runs scored in both games.

Wednesday’s inaugural Blackduck softball games may not be the last in town. If Blackduck continues to supply Bemidji with talent, there will certainly be more trips to town in the future.

“I hope Blackduck keeps bringing the kids to Highway 71,” Grimm said. “I need them, my band needs them — we’re not a band without them.”

Bemidji’s Jessa Anderson (1) runs toward third base during a game against Roseau on Wednesday, July 10, 2024, at Blackduck softball fields.

Alex Faber / Bemidji Pioneer

Bemidji 4, Roseau 0 (F/5)
ROS 000 00 0-4-2
BEM002204-3-1
WP: Swedberg (5 IP, 4 HR, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 SO)

Bemidji 3, Roseau 1 (F/5)
ROS 000 01
BEM 101 10
WP: Shogren (5 IP, 0 HR, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 SO)

Alex Faber is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. A transplant from Michigan, he graduated from Michigan State University in 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minors in history and environmental studies.