PREP SOFTBALL: Arrows rout MA/C-A 14-3 to stay alive in 3AAMARSHALL — With its victory Tuesday afternoon, the Pipestone Area Arrows’ fast-pitch softball team has earned the right to play the only team that it has lost to this season.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
MARSHALL — With its victory Tuesday afternoon, the Pipestone Area Arrows’ fast-pitch softball team has earned the right to play the only team that it has lost to this season.
The Arrows drubbed the Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta Tigers, 14-3, at the Marshall Softball Complex in the double-elimination portion of the Section 3AA tournament.
Tuesday’s win assures that PA, which improved to 23-1 overall, will face a New Ulm (20-2) team that handed the Arrows their lone blemish of the campaign. The Eagles edged the Arrows 5-2 earlier in the tournament.
The Arrows will need to beat the Eagles twice on Thursday to claim the section title and earn a berth in the state tournament.
“We are ready,” Paige Petersen said of the upcoming championship. “It’ll be fun.”
Petersen, who handled the duties behind the plate and caught for both starting pitcher Tasia Woelber and reliever Kelly Nettik, finished 1-for-3 at the plate with a walk and a stolen base. The junior backstop blasted a two-run home run over the left-field fence in the sixth inning to give the Arrows a commanding 12-3 lead.
“It felt good,” Petersen added. “I was kind of struggling with the bat up to that point so it was nice to get a big hit.”
The Arrows tacked on two more runs in the seventh and also put up crooked numbers in the second, fourth and sixth innings, while scoring a lone run in the fifth.
The Tigers, who end the season with a 17-5 record, claimed the game’s first lead with two runs in the bottom of the first and battled to tie the game after three with a run following the Arrows’ three-run second inning.
However, with the score deadlocked at 3-3, PA’s bats exploded for four runs in the fourth by getting singles from Tiffany Woelber (2-for-4 with two runs scored and two stolen bases) and Mikayla Enger (2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and two runs scored), while capitalizing on four Tiger errors in the inning to gain the four-run bulge.
Following that inning, the Tigers had no answer for Nettik, who came on in relief of an injured Tasia Woelber in the bottom of the third.
“It was a great team win,” PA head coach Troy Bouman said. “Kelly Nettik came in and threw really well.
“Tasia was struggling with some uncomfortable feelings with her arm that we will get checked out. Hopefully she will be ready to go on Thursday, but Kelly came in and threw exceptionally well. She came in with runners on first and second with two outs and a 2-1 count. To come in and get out of the inning was huge and then she really didn’t give up anything after that.”
Nettik walked the first batter she faced with the 2-1 count, but went on to retire 10 consecutive batters with perfect innings in the fourth, fifth and sixth, before allowing a lead-off single in the bottom of seventh. However, the sophomore pitcher induced three ground-ball outs to end the game and finished with four strikeouts over the final 4 1/3 innings.
“I was nervous at first coming in, but after I walked that one, I knew that I had to get it done,” Nettik said. “I really focused and I knew that my teammates were behind me, so I tried to relax a little bit.
“Once Tasia went out, everybody knew that they had to pick up their game. Everybody focused in and we started to hit the ball really well.”
Tasia Woelber allowed three runs (one earned) over the first 2 2/3 innings and struck out four, before leaving the game with the game tied at three and a pair of runners on base.
The Tiger runs in the first came from a base hit and a pair of Arrow errors, that turned into a 2-0 lead.
“Very uncharacteristic of us to have that many errors in one inning,” Bouman said. “But I was very proud of how we played defense after that.”
PA didn’t commit another fielding miscue over the balance of the game, while the bats locked in and started to put runs on the scoreboard with big innings.
Libby Schneider (2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored) and Tasia Woelber each drove in a run in the second, while Petersen scored when Enger reached on an error for the first three Arrow runs to take a 3-2 lead.
Nettik (2-for-4 with an RBI) doubled and scored on Enger’s double in the fifth for PA’s eighth run, while the Arrows extended their lead with four runs in the sixth when Cassie Evans (1-for-5 with an RBI and a stolen base) singled home Brittany Evans (1-for-4 with two runs scored), Nettik drove in Cassie Evans with a single and Petersen’s two-run blast ran the lead to 12-3.
Amanda Haupert, who recorded four assists from shortstop including a nice play deep in the hole behind third base for the first out of the bottom of the fourth inning, drilled a two-run homer to left to complete the Arrow scoring in the seventh.
Laura Rudie, who was PA’s flex player, played a strong second base for the Arrows and recorded three assists to combine with Haupert for seven assists from the middle-infield positions.
“The girls did a great job,” Bouman said. “We hit the ball exceptionally well. The Tigers came out and scored two in the first inning, but we had a little pow-wow and put a three-spot up. Any time the Tigers did something, we came in and answered right back. I’m real proud of the girls.”
Now the Arrows begin the preparations for Thursday’s championship with New Ulm.
“It’s going to be a battle, especially New Ulm in the section finals,” Bouman said. “What else is there to say. It’s been this way for three years in a row, so it is going to be a good game.”
“I expect that it will be a really good game,” Nettik said. “It will be tough, but I know that we can do it. We need to come out strong and be ready to play.”
Thursday’s section championship begins at 5 p.m in Marshall.
R H E
PA 030 414 2 — 14 12 2
MA/C-A 201 000 0 — 3 7 6