April 29, 2015 | 3 p.m.
By Suzanne McInroy, Director of Communications
The Bethel University softball team became MIAC Champions for the first time in program history on April 25 with a pair of victories over Carleton College in a doubleheader dedicated to cancer awareness.
The Royals jumped to an 8-1 lead after four innings of play against the Knights, but Carleton stormed back with two runs in the fifth and five runs in the sixth to tie the score at 8-8.
Brooke Charleston then recorded the hit of her career, when she laced a two-out, bases-loaded single to left in the bottom of the sixth that drove in two runs and gave Bethel an 8-6 advantage. Scoring two proved to be critical, as the Knights scored one in the top of the seventh and had the game-tying run thrown out at the plate.
Bethel’s trip to the postseason is their third straight, and their first under head coach Penny Foore. Thanks to Saturday’s sweep, the Royals gain the top seed in the 2015 MIAC Playoffs as well as the opportunity to host all postseason games at Bethel’s softball venue, the Ona Orth Complex, this weekend. The Royals will face the University of St. Thomas in the opening game of the postseason on May 1 at 3 p.m.
In addition to their final home doubleheader, the team organized a Strike Out Cancer fundraising and awareness campaign. With several players and their families directly affected by cancer recently, the cause is one that is close to the Royals’ hearts. Special guests threw out the first pitches for the doubleheader — Erick Brask, father of Ashton Brask ’17; Gail Thompson in place of Tom Thompson, parents of Grace Thompson ’15; and Kurt Persson, father of Karli Persson ’16 — all of whom are cancer survivors.
“We began talking to each other about cancer after we found out that my dad had cancer in the fall of 2013 and after Ashton's dad was diagnosed with cancer in February of 2014,” says Karli Persson, who organized the event along with Ashton Brask. “Our team was our main support group and there was mention about doing a cancer game last year but it never came through. This September, Ashton and I really wanted to make a difference by having this game and helping people going through similar situations.”
Proceeds from Strike Out Cancer benefited the Hope Lodge in Minneapolis and the Randy Shaver Research and Community Fund to support cancer research. “We selected the charities as a team,” explains Persson. “Originally we were thinking of only donating to one organization but as we talked about it with our team, we wanted to make an impact on both sides of cancer – the prevention and treatment of cancer and the care of patients going through treatment. The two organizations that we chose are both located in Minnesota because we wanted to donate to local organizations.”
Persson, who is studying exercise science at Bethel, and Brask, an elementary education major, said that team members were nervous and excited going into the doubleheader and Strike Out Cancer event. “We were nervous about what could go wrong and worried that we would forget to do something but we were also extremely excited to see God's plan in action,” says Persson. “While we had a lot on our mind about the events during and after the games, we were just as excited to play Carleton to prove that we deserve to be the champions. One of our biggest prayers was giving our game up to God, for we knew that this was not going to come together well without His help.”
Sports Information Director Jared Johnson contributed to this story.