Arrows off to winning start
MANKATO -- The last time Pipestone Area and St. Anthony Village saw each other in a state softball tournament game, the Arrows needed 17 innings to score off the Huskies' Rose Tusa.
Thursday, in the opening round of the 2008 Class AA tournament at Caswell Park, the Arrows needed just four batters to score a run en route to a 6-2 victory over the Huskies.
"I thought we played really, really well," PA's Brooke Henderson said. "Our defense was amazing and hitting was really good tonight, too."
Chelsey Evans allowed no earned runs and scattered four hits while walking one and striking out 12 to earn the victory for the Arrows (19-4).
"I have to hand it to my defense," Evans said. "I have a lot of confidence because I know if they put it in play, I have a defense behind me that can make the plays. (Kayla) Rowden does awesome behind the plate."
While PA was praising its defense, the Huskies (19-5) struggled defensively and missed key plays in the field.
"I'm not going to lie, the plays we didn't make, I've seen them make during the regular season," St. Anthony Village head coach Lamar Brendemuehl said. "I think it was contagious, and we had opportunities and we didn't make plays that we made before."
After holding the Arrows to one run a season ago, SAV's Tusa allowed 12 hits and six runs Thursday.
"Seeing her last year and then again this year, I know our hitting has gotten a lot stronger," Henderson said. "I think we just knew how she threw, so we had practice and we got used to how she threw."
Tusa did not issue a walk and struck out nine in the game.
"She's had better days, I think," Brendemuehl said. "(The umpire) wasn't calling much in the corners and he was making her hang it over home. They got an early lead, and that always helps."
As the visiting team, the Arrows had the opportunity to strike first. They didn't waste their chance.
Bailey Bouman hit a ball back to the pitcher to start the game and -- with no one covering first -- reached safely. Evans followed with a sacrifice bunt, and Rowden grounded out to move Bouman to third.
With two outs, Henderson hit a ground ball to the second baseman that was misplayed to score Bouman and give PA a 1-0 lead.
"I think that was huge," PA head coach Troy Bouman said of the first run. "It got us that lead and helped us relax a little bit. Once our hitters relax, we don't squeeze the bat quite as hard, and I thought our hitters did an excellent job of that."
While the Arrows were able to score in their half of the first inning, the Huskies were unable to match as Evans struck out the side in the bottom half of the frame.
With a one-run lead, the Arrows came back for more in the second. Steph Rudie singled to lead off the inning, and Amanda Monger reached on an error after her bunt attempt was misplayed.
The runners each advanced a base on another error as the Arrows had two runners in scoring position with no outs.
Karli Deschepper grounded out, driving in Rudie, to increase the lead to 2-0. However, PA wasn't done yet. Bailey Bouman hit a foul pop fly behind the third-base bag that Huskies shortstop Quyen Bui fell playing, allowing Monger to score for a 3-0 PA edge.
"Any little mistake they made we really took advantage of," Troy Bouman said. "We had people in position to take advantage of them, too, so that was huge."
Henderson (2-for-4) and Rudie (2-for-4) each singled in the third as the Arrows were threatening. Monger came through with an RBI single as PA opened up a 4-0 lead after three innings.
SAV had a leadoff double in the bottom of the third, but Evans struck out the side again to end the Huskie threat.
"We had opportunities, but we were missing the ball by an inch or half-inch," Brendemuehl said. "We didn't get bunts down. She was giving us pitches to do it, but we just couldn't make plays."
Leading by four runs, PA added two more in the fourth.
With two outs, Evans and Rowden singled to give the Arrows a pair of runners on base. Henderson hit a single up the middle to score a run, and Brooke Woelber (who ran for Rowden) scored on a wild pitch to give the Arrows a comfortable 6-0 lead.
The fifth inning didn't see a run on the scoreboard, but it was the sixth were the Huskies finally broke through. The Arrows had two consecutive errors to start the inning, to give the Huskies an opportunity to score their first run.
"I knew we pretty much had it the whole time," Evans said. "We have confidence like that if we make a couple of errors, it's all right, we can make it up and keep going."
Tusa later singled to drive in both runs to cut the deficit to four runs, 6-2.
"I'm just happy we came out and played as well as we did," Troy Bouman said. "We made the two errors, which we weren't real happy about, but we hit the ball well. We put the ball in play and really took advantage of their mistakes."
The Huskies had a pair of runners on base in the final inning, but like she did all game, Evans was able to keep the hitters off balance and close out the 6-2 victory.
"Chelsey was just being Chelsey," Troy Bouman said. "We're used to seeing that. To do it at the state tournament is a totally different thing because there is a lot better competition, but we expect that."
Due to severe weather, Thursday night's game with Hermantown (21-3) has been postponed until 10 a.m. today, meaning the Arrows will have to wait another day for their quest to capture a second consecutive state championship.
"It's just the first game, and who knows what's going to happen," Troy Bouman said. "It was a good day for us, we played Pipestone softball. Who knows what tonight will bring or tomorrow, depending on the weather. But we'll show up and see what happens after that."
But an opening-round victory gives the players confidence heading into their next game.
"I hope things keep going well for us," Evans said. "We're here to get it done, and hopefully it happens for us."
R H E
PA 121 200 0 -- 6 12 2
SAV 000 002 0 -- 2 4 5