MW SOFTBALL: Lady Jays split doubleheaderWORTHINGTON – Following a 14-6 loss in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader with the Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets, the Minnesota West Lady Jays softball team responded in the night cap with a 12-6 victory to secure a split in Southern Division action.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON – Following a 14-6 loss in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader with the Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets, the Minnesota West Lady Jays softball team responded in the night cap with a 12-6 victory to secure a split in Southern Division action.
The Lady Jays committed eight errors in the first game and allowed the Yellowjackets to bat around in the fourth and fifth innings to claim the win despite MW leading 2-0 after two innings.
However, in the second game it was the Lady Jays who fell in an early hole (trailed 5-0 going to the bottom of the second), but managed to bounce back to tie the game after three innings and broke the game open with a five-run fifth inning to run away with the win.
“That first game was a little bit disappointing,” MW head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka. “It was pretty sloppy and we gave them quite a few things. We didn’t do things very well and we didn’t take good swings. Then down five to nothing to start the second game and we’ve been in that situation before. It could’ve been easy for us to fold. But it was nice to see us come back after falling behind and getting back in it real quick.”
Cheyenne Platz sparked the Lady Jays’ attack in the second game by drilling a two-run homerun to left-center field in the third inning to tie the game at 5-5.
“Right when I saw the pitch coming, I knew it was a good one,” Platz said. “It felt good when I hit it but with the strong northwest wind that we had, I wasn’t sure if it was going to go or not.”
Indeed, the MW first baseman’s blast did clear the fence with ease and it tipped the balance of the contest into the host’s favor.
“Cheyenne’s homerun was huge,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “That was a big momentum swing for us.”
MW relief pitcher Katherine Kazemba pitched a perfect top of the fourth to get the bats back to plate in the bottom of the inning and the Lady Jays took the lead (6-5) as Erin Ebbers hit a one-out infield single, stole second and scored on an RBI single by Steph Behrens (1-for-3).
RCTC tied the game in the top of the fifth but MW responded with its biggest inning of the day in the home half.
Platz, who finished the second game with four runs scored and two walks on a 2-for-2 game at the plate, led off the fifth with a single, which was followed by a walk to Jess Hermeling (2-for-3).
Alyson Drooger (1-for-4) plated Platz with an RBI double to left field to regain the lead and gave MW a pair of runners in scoring position.
Ashley Sell (2-for-4) drove home Hermeling and Drooger with a two-RBI triple into left field that gave the Lady Jays a 9-6 lead and Sell crossed home when Alayna Hall reached base on a Yellowjacket error.
After a walk to Ebbers (2-for-2), Sell and Ebbers performed a double steal and the final run of the MW fifth came in when Kazemba lifted a sacrifice fly to left to score Sell for an 11-6 bulge.
The Lady Jays added an insurance run in the sixth when Platz led off with a walk and her pinch runner, Rachel Malmgren, stole second and scored on Hermeling’s second hit of the game.
Meanwhile, Kazemba (three runs on six hits and one walk while striking out three in six innings) worked perfect innings in the sixth and seventh innings to secure the win for the Lady Jays.
Kazemba came on in relief of Ebbers, who pitched the entire first game and the first inning of the second game.
“I can’t say enough about Kat coming in in the second inning,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “She struggled just a little bit but it’s tough for her to come in during the game as she’s better if she starts the game. It takes her some time to get going and that second inning was really her only snafu and she just rolled from there.”
The two runs scored off Kazemba in the second inning came when Rachel Tate, who helped RCTC stake the early lead with a two-run homerun to dead center in the top of the first, bounced a two-run, bases-loaded single off the top of the center field fence to make it 5-0 early.
However, Kazemba worked around a trio of MW errors in the third to not allow a run and was aided by a defense that didn’t commit an error the rest of the way.
“In the second game, we started hitting better and made some good defensive plays,” Kazemba said. “That really helped out a lot. It’s nice to have good defense backing you up and they did a really good job.”
The Lady Jays got some run support for Kazemba in the second inning when Platz led off with a walk and Hermeling hit an infield single to start the frame.
Randa Knutson (1-for-2) drove in Platz in with a single to center followed by an RBI ground out by Drooger that scored Hermeling and an RBI single to right by Sell that scored Knutson to make it 5-3 after two innings.
Platz’s two-run shot followed in the third inning and made it a whole new ballgame.
“That was exciting and that got the momentum going and we got some good hits after that,” Kazemba added.
The momentum was all the Yellowjackets in Game 1.
After jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning as Platz and Hermeling each singled and both scored when Drooger hit a double to center, RCTC responded with a run in the third to make it 2-1 and then batted around in the fourth and fifth innings to break open the game.
In those two innings, the Yellowjackets plated nine runs on nine hits and three walks and were aided by four Lady Jays’ errors.
MW scored a run in the fourth when Platz reached on an error and scored on Drooger’s second hit of the opener to trail 4-3 after four and then answered RCTC’s six-run fifth with three in the bottom half to make it 10-6 after five.
But RCTC closed the game out with four more runs in the seventh for the 14-6 final.
Ashley Olson (RBI and two runs) led the Yellowjackets in the first game with three hits, while Katie Busse (two RBI and two runs), Jenica Gerber (two RBI and two runs), Tate (RBI and two runs) and Jordan Nelson (RBI and a run) each had two hits apiece.
Laura Cornell earned the Game 1 win by going the distance and allowing four earned runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out four.
Ebbers took the loss for the Lady Jays in a complete-game effort, striking out six.
“We got ourselves in a hole in the first game and we didn’t help Erin out with our defense,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “Erin struck out six batters and for the most part, she pitched pretty well.’
However, the Lady Jays were pleased with their ability to stay resilient and come away with a split after falling behind early in the second game after dropping the opener.
“This means a lot to us because it shows that we can be down by five, six runs and we can come back and pick up a win,” Platz said. “We can pretty much do anything when we put our heads together and get the runs in and get the defense going good. Runs are contagious and so is the defense out there. It worked out perfect to get everything going in that second game.”
The Lady Jays’ record moves to 5-8 following the split and they return to action Saturday with a doubleheader at Fergus Falls.
Game 1 R H E
RCTC 001 360 4 – 14 14 6
MW 020 130 0 – 6 7 8
Game 2 R H E
RCTC 320 010 0 – 6 11 4
MW 032 151 X – 12 11 4