Trojans split with Eagles
WINDOM -- After having just four hits in a Game 1 loss in Friday's Southwest Conference softball doubleheader, the Worthington Trojans had four consecutive hits in the Game 2 en route to a 5-4 victory and a split on the day against the host Windom Eagles.
"It was nice that they came out with their hitting shoes on in the first inning of the second game, and we had four hits in a row and a couple of runs," Worthington head coach Sam Baumgartner said. "It was good to establish that momentum early."
Lynn Harberts and Rachel Pavelko each singled to start the game and would both score, as Jordan Wiertzema and Carrie Timmerman each singled and the Trojans (2-6, 5-9) opened up a 2-0 lead after the first inning.
"We played well again, and Worthington played clean," Windom head coach Paul Vesey said. "They hit the ball early and one got away from us."
Alii Holt singled with one out in the second, and would score to cut the Windom (4-6, 7-10) deficit to one run, 2-1.
After Windom pitcher Abby Lund shut down the Trojan offense in the second inning, Worthington got on the board in a big way in the third.
With one out, Timmerman hit a Lund offering over the left-center field fence for a solo home run.
"The smile on her face when she came around third base was pretty big, and she was pretty excited," Baumgartner said. "It was a nice hit. I know she's been struggling a little at the plate, so hopefully, that gets her on track a little more."
It was the first over-the-fence home run for the Trojans in three years, but it was assistant coach Josh Wasmund that called the shot.
"I told her to swing hard and square it up and you'll hit it out of here," Wasmund said.
However, the Eagles would not go quietly.
Malori Paplow walked to start the top of the fifth inning, and after a fly out, Megan Mattson walked to give Windom two runners on.
Ellie Hormig also singled, and with the bases loaded, Holt delivered a two-run single to tie the game at 3-all.
Searching for the victory, the top of the Worthington order came through again.
With one out, Pavelko singled, and Wiertzema followed with a single of her own.
Pavelko would score on a wild pitch to give the Trojans back the lead, and Wiertzema would score on a Hannah Solem fielder's choice to give Worthington a two-run cushion after five innings.
"After we tied it up, they came up with the top of their order," Vesey said. "They are good on the top, and they put some good swings on it -- got on base and got a couple of runs."
With two outs in the top of the sixth, Paplow delivered a solo home run to bring the Eagles back within one.
"This season, I have been kind of struggling with my hitting and coach helped me a lot with the way my hands were adjusting and keeping my swing level," Paplow said. "It just all came together at the end."
The ball grazed the top of the left-center fence and barely made it over for the round tripper.
"There was another game where it almost went over and I hadn't run, so I was halfway caught," Paplow said. "So this time I kept running."
After setting the Trojans down in order, Windom had one last chance in the last inning.
Hormig walked with one out, but was thrown out at second on a fielder's choice off the bat of Holt.
Holt advanced to second on a wild pitch, giving Windom the trying run in scoring position.
However, Worthington pitcher Kristen Dierks (seven hits, four walks, four strikeouts) got Lisa Johnson to pop up to secure the victory.
"She's continuing to throw the ball very well and mixing up her changeup at key times in the game," Baumgartner said of Dierks. "She's keeping the hitters honest and off balance a little bit."
Worthington's defense played solid behind Dierks and committed only two errors in the game.
"The defense bailed her out with a couple of nice plays, and that's how the game is supposed to go," Baumgartner said. "The pitcher is supposed to put the ball in play for you, and the defense makes plays behind you, and we did that in the second game."
In the sixth inning, Worthington's Lydia Mick and Windom's Karissa Borsgard each made catches in center field to prevent a rally.
"Both sides had some real good defensive plays," Vesey said. "Their center fielder made a heck of a catch in the sixth inning, and our center fielder made a great catch. It was a fun game to watch."
While it was the Trojan offense that provided the heroics in the second game, it was Windom's Steph Utech that stole the show in Game 1.
Utech allowed one run on four hits while striking out eight and walking none.
"I think I threw pretty well," Utech said. "I wasn't expecting a no-hitter. People can sometimes read by pitches."
The Trojans had trouble with Utech all game, as Kaela Wiese scored the lone Worthington run in the fifth inning on a Dierks single.
"Steph threw hard, and when she throws hard she's tough to hit," Vesey said. "We played very well behind her; I think we only had the one error in the last inning. It ended up not costing us."
Harberts, who had two of Worthington's four hits in the game, doubled to lead off the game, but was stranded as Utech recorded two strikeouts to end the threat.
The Eagle offense was able to add a run in the bottom of the first as Lund walked, and Mattson drove her in with an RBI double to give Windom a 1-0 lead.
But it was in the second inning that the Eagles broke the game open.
Holt singled to start the inning, and Morgan Borsgard reached on an error.
With Holt on third, Summer Stevens executed a squeeze play to score Holt and give Windom a 2-0 advantage.
Both Morgan Borsgard and Stevens would later score, with Karissa Borsgard knocking in the final run of the inning -- increasing the lead to 4-0.
"We are definitely a team of momentum," Vesey said. "If we string together a couple of hits, sometimes we'll get about six."
Worthington strung together three hits in the fifth and scored a run, but that was all the Trojan offense could muster in the game.
"We weren't able to get our bats going, so that was the difference there once they got those runs on us," Baumgartner said. "That was the game right there."
Windom could not push a run across in the middle innings, while the Trojans added one to cut the lead to 4-1.
"That's kind of the story of our season," Vesey said. "It seems like we get a couple of hits here and there, it's been our nature that one inning we'll hit the ball hard and score a few runs."
Johnson led off the sixth with a single, and with two outs, Karissa Borsgard singled to score Johnson. Paplow then drove in Borsgard to give Windom the final 6-1 margin.
Windom will host ML/B-O Monday, while Worthington will host Pipestone Area in a Southwest Conference doubleheader the same day.
Game 1 R H E
Worth. 000 010 0 -- 1 4 2
Windom 130 002 X -- 6 9 1
Game 2 R H E
Windom 010 021 0 -- 4 7 0
Worth. 201 020 X -- 5 8 2