WHS SOFTBALL: Huskies take two from Trojans 13-2, 3-2WORTHINGTON – The Jackson County Central softball team evened its overall record with a doubleheader sweep over the Worthington Trojans Tuesday afternoon at Centennial Field.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON – The Jackson County Central softball team evened its overall record with a doubleheader sweep over the Worthington Trojans Tuesday afternoon at Centennial Field.
The Huskies won 13-2 in five innings in Game 1 prior to edging the Trojans 3-2 in the nightcap.
JCC improved to 6-6 overall and to 3-4 in the Southwest Conference, while WHS dropped to 7-6 overall and 4-4 in the league.
Game 1 saw the visitors build a 6-1 lead after four innings before putting the game away with a seven-run fifth inning.
The Huskies pounded out 10 hits in the opener compared to two for the Trojans with Marita Rasche hitting a two-run home run in the fourth and Lydia Brandt leading off the fifth with a solo homer being the big blasts.
“We’ve really focused on what pitches to hit and picking good pitches to hit at practice,” JCC head coach Shelly Hotzler said. “I was really pleased with the girls.”
The Huskies also took advantage of seven Trojan errors in the first game, while limiting mistakes of their own in the field.
“It was nice to take advantage of some of those things and the baserunning was really good [Thursday].”
JCC was ready to go from the start, as the first two pitches thrown by WHS starting pitcher Angela Robinson were lined for hits by Brooke Klontz and Rasche. Klontz later scored on a passed ball following a one-out walk to Brandt for the game’s first run, while Rasche scored on a Trojan error for the early 2-0 lead.
The lead was extended to 4-0 in the third inning when Jasmine Erickson doubled with one-out and then scored on a single from Brandt. Brandt was moved to third on an error and scored on an RBI single from Jenna Stade.
The four runs were a good cushion for Klontz, who started in the circle for the Huskies in the opener.
The junior righthander retired six of the first seven Trojan batters she faced, before yielding a run in the third when Betsy Thompson doubled home Aleanna Heig, who had been hit by a pitch to lead off the inning.
Rasche quickly got that run back and added another for the Huskies when she blasted her two-run home run to left with Adriane Rentschler aboard for a 6-1 lead in the fourth.
Rebecca Linder singled in the bottom half of the fourth for WHS, but was stranded at second, before Brandt set the tone for a big Huskie fifth inning.
Swinging at the first pitch to start the fifth, Brandt crushed the Robinson offering over the center-field fence for a 7-1 lead.
“Those two are so great,” Erickson said of Brandt and Rasche. “Those two keep swinging really well and they’re good for us. They are good, strong hitters.”
Following the Brandt roundtripper, the Huskies brought 11 more to the plate and scored six more runs, capitalizing on five Trojan errors, while getting a pair of hits from Caitlin Muir and having runners reach base via the fielder’s choice.
“In the first game, things really just got out of hand,” Trojan head coach Sam Baumgartner said. “Jackson came out and put pressure on us right away. First two pitches, two hits. They jumped on us early and kept putting pressure on us the whole game.
“We finally just cracked under the pressure and the floodgates opened. It got out of hand and they buried us in the first game.”
WHS scored a run in the home half of the fifth when Heig led off with a walk and scored on a Huskie error following a Thompson fielder’s choice for the 13-2 Game 1 final.
Klontz earned the complete-game win in the opener, allowing one earned run on two hits, a walk and a hit batter, while striking out three.
JCC turned to Rentschler to start the second game in the circle and WHS seemed to welcome facing a different hurler.
Yadirra Barragan slapped a one-out single to left followed by a walk to Robinson.
Jenny Majerus plated Barragan with a single to left for the game’s first run, but Rentschler worked out of the inning with no further damage and the Huskies immediately responded.
Klontz led off with a double down the left-field line and scored when Erickson reached on an error with one out to tie the game.
Following the second out and a hit by Muir, Erickson scored the go-ahead run when Stade hit a flyball to left that was misplayed.
With the score 2-1 in favor of JCC after an inning, the game settled into a pitcher’s duel between Robinson and Rentschler (five strikeouts), with each side scoring a run apiece the rest of way.
The Huskies run came in the third when they extended the lead to 3-1.
Muir led off with a single, stole second base and moved to third on a single by Breanne Reetz. Rentschler plated Muir with a single.
WHS plated its run in the sixth for the 3-2 final as Linder led off with a single, moved to third on a pair of wild pitches and scored on an RBI ground out by Thompson.
The Trojans had chances to score in the fourth and fifth innings, but ran into a pair of outs at home in the fourth and the Huskies displayed a strong defense spearheaded by the shortstop Erickson.
Erickson recorded seven assists from her spot at short, which was highlighted by a relay throw to home to record the first out in the fourth. In fact, the junior recorded at least one assist in each inning except the first.
“I’ve been improving a lot. I started out kind of slow, but got some practice in and it helped out a lot,” Erickson said. “We played good as a team and things together.”
Hotzler added, “She’s really solid there. She’s put in a lot of work over the years and it was nice to see her step up and play that position well [Thursday].”
Baumgartner also was impressed by the play of the JCC shortstop.
“Outstanding. She was a wall,” the WHS coach said. “Everything that was hit – whether it was soft and she charged it or we hit bullets at her or she had tough hops – she came up with everything. She was an absolute vacuum and kept us from getting anything going. She made play after play after play and was a big part of their success.”
The Huskies’ starting pitchers were also a big part of that success.
“The pitchers have been really working hard on hitting their spots and working the changeup into their mix and keeping the ball low,” the JCC coach said. “They did that and it showed with their pitching performances.”
Robinson took the loss in both games for WHS, striking out six on the day.
Erickson said that the Huskies were comfortable at the plate against the WHS ace.
“We’ve been practicing [on our hitting] a lot and taking swings,” the shortstop said. “[Robinson] was a good speed for us and we jumped on her.”
The Trojans committed three errors in the nightcap, which all came in the two-run JCC first, but settled down and played flawless the rest of the way.
“In the second game, even though it was a lot closer, I think we still felt the weight of the first game and that onrush and that pressure that JCC put on us,” Baumgartner said. “We just weren’t able to mount anything or get anything going. We were behind and we just couldn’t get over that hump. There were a couple of innings where we had chances and we ran ourselves out of the one inning where we had a really good chance.
“I was glad that we were able to respond and play a lot better and smarter in the second game. We made it a game, but just didn’t get that one break that we needed.”
WHS will look to respond to Thursday’s losses today when it hosts Brandon Valley (S.D.) today at 4:30 p.m., while JCC returns to action Monday with a home game with New Ulm.
Game 1 R H E
JCC 202 27 — 13 10 2
WHS 001 01 — 2 2 7
Game 2 R H E
WHS 100 001 0 — 2 7 3
JCC 201 000 X — 3 8 0