PREP SOFTBALL: SWU outlasts R-T-R 10-9BREWSTER — Despite collecting only two hits on a hot and windy Friday afternoon, the eighth-seeded Southwestern United Wildcats claimed an exciting 10-9 victory over the ninth-seeded Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Knights in a back-and-forth “pigtail” game to open the Section 3A South high school fastpitch softball tournament.
By: Lucas Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
BREWSTER — Despite collecting only two hits on a hot and windy Friday afternoon, the eighth-seeded Southwestern United Wildcats claimed an exciting 10-9 victory over the ninth-seeded Russell-Tyler-Ruthton Knights in a back-and-forth “pigtail” game to open the Section 3A South high school fastpitch softball tournament.
SWU improves to 6-16 overall and advances to play the top-seeded Wabasso Rabbits Tuesday (3 p.m.) in Wabasso. R-T-R, which earned an 11-6 victory over the Wildcats last Friday (May 11), finishes its season with a record of 2-13.
Ida Rogers-Ferguson, who is just an eighth-grader, struck out 11 batters in a solid complete-game performance in the circle for the Wildcats. Rogers-Ferguson issued seven walks and scattered six hits in her seven innings of work, and she fanned at least one batter in each frame — including ending the game by striking out R-T-R’s No. 3 hitter with the potential tying run on second base in the top of the seventh.
“Ida pitched well and kept us in the ballgame,” SWU head coach Cindy Owen said. “We didn’t make all of the plays defensively to help her out, but she stayed with it and worked out of some tough situations. This was a good win for us because we continued to play and kept battling until the very end.”
The Wildcats did commit six untimely errors, but they were able to take advantage of nine defensive miscues by the Knights and nine walks issued by R-T-R’s Anna Madsen (two strikeouts in a complete-game effort) to score in five of the six innings that they batted in.
Rogers-Ferguson pitched four scoreless frames — including both the first and second — to help SWU get off to a strong start. Rogers-Ferguson fanned a pair of batters in the first and struck out the side in the second, working around a walk and two singles in that span.
SWU jumped on top with a run in the bottom of the first, as Maddie Rasche drew a lead-off walk and promptly stole second base. Rasche advanced to third on a wild pitch and later scored on a squeeze bunt by Rogers-Ferguson, giving the Wildcats a quick 1-0 lead.
R-T-R broke through with a trio of runs in the top of the third — highlighted by an RBI double down the left-field line by Nicole Enemark — to take a 3-1 advantage.
The Wildcats manufactured a run in both the third and fourth to even the score at three apiece, again without the benefit of a base hit each time. Alaina Klingenberg walked and scored on an error in the third, while Janae Vonk walked and scored on an RBI groundout by Mariah Crowell in the fourth for SWU.
R-T-R went back up by two runs (5-3) after scoring twice in the top of the fifth. Kaylie Nielsen’s RBI ground-rule double to left-center was the big blow in that inning, giving the Knights the momentum.
However, the Wildcats countered with four runs to regain a 7-5 lead. Vonk coaxed a two-out walk to start the rally, while Crowell reached on an error and Jordin Elness was hit by a pitch to load the bases.
Jennifer Jimenez then reached on an error, allowing Vonk to score. Crowell followed by hustling home from third on a passed ball, tying the score at five apiece.
Rasche then smacked the Wildcats’ first base hit of the game, driving in Elness with a go-ahead single to center. A fielder’s choice groundball off the bat of Sonja Peters later in the inning allowed Jimenez to score just before the third out was recorded on a tag play at second base, as SWU was up 7-5.
“We did a nice job of running the bases today, aggressively stealing second several times and moving up on lots of passed balls to the backstop,” Owen said. “We made things happen on the base paths and also put the ball in play consistently, as we only struck out twice. We were also patient at the plate and took advantage of some walks and hit batters to generate some offense.”
R-T-R, though, responded with four runs in the top of the sixth to retake a 9-7 lead. SWU committed three errors in the inning, and Alecia Snyder belted an RBI ground-rule double down the left-field line to highlight the Knights’ offensive surge.
But SWU threw the final punch and scored three times in the bottom of the sixth to close the game’s scoring with a 10-9 edge. Rogers-Ferguson was hit by a pitch to start the game-winning comeback.
Connor DeWall then drew a walk before Vonk blasted a ball into left field that was dropped, allowing Rogers-Ferguson to score. Crowell was hit by a pitch to load the bases again.
R-T-R recorded a force out at home on a comebacker to Madsen, but Jimenez cracked an RBI single to right — plating Vonk with the tying run. The ball was misplayed in right field, and Owen waved Crowell home from second with the go-ahead run.
Rogers-Ferguson closed the game out in the seventh, inducing a grounder and an infield pop-up for two quick outs. R-T-R’s Brittney McWilliams then reached on a two-base error and represented the tying run at second base, but Rogers-Ferguson struck out the next batter on three straight pitches to clinch the victory for the Wildcats.
“We have been improving all season long and are getting better at doing things the right way,” Owen said. “The girls were determined to win this game and have a chance to play again next week. I’m proud of the way we kept on playing and fighting back throughout the game.”
R H E
R-T-R 003 024 0 — 9 6 9
SWU 101 143 X — 10 2 6