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Lady Jays bounce back in Game 2, forge split with St. Cloud Tech

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Lady Jay Steph Behrens throws out a baserunner during Saturday's doubleheader in Worthington.1 / 2
Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Lady Jay Christine Kazemba winds up to deliver a pitch Saturday in Worthington.2 / 2

WORTHINGTON -- In their home-opening doubleheader Saturday afternoon, the Minnesota West Lady Jays earned a split with the St. Cloud Tech Cyclones at the Minnesota West Athletic Complex.

The Cyclones overcame the Lady Jays' late-game rally to win the opener, 9-6, in eight innings. The Lady Jays salvaged the split with 4-0 shutout in the nightcap.

Christine Kazemba pitched all 15 innings for Minnesota West, suffering the loss in Game 1 by allowing six earned runs on 13 hits and four walks while striking out three. However, the freshman hurler responded in Game 2 by scattering four hits, two walks and a strikeout, which was coupled by a solid defensive effort behind her and timely hitting.

"To pitch a doubleheader is tough," said Lady Jays head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka, who is in her ninth year coaching the program. "The batters usually get their timing down and they've already seen you for seven innings. Christine pitched a whale of a game in the second game. That was just great to see because they hit her pretty well in the first game."

Game 1

St. Cloud Tech 9, Minnesota West 6

(8 innings)

The Lady Jays responded to RBI doubles from the Cyclones' Stephanie Skwira (2-for-4) and Megan Garding (3-for-5) in the top half of the first by using patience and speed to tie the score at 2 after an inning.

Catcher Alayna Hall (2-for-3) -- who earned All-MCAC Southern Division honors last season as a freshman by batting .524 with 17 RBIs, 31 stolen bases and 39 runs -- walked to start the home half of the first and stole two bases before scoring on a throwing error after Jess Hermeling (3-for-4), who had reached on a slap bunt and swiped second. Hermeling later scored on a double steal with Stephanie Behrens (2-for-3), who was hit by a pitch.

However, the Cyclones answered in the second by using two Lady Jays' errors to take a 4-2 lead, which held up until MW tied the game at 4 with two in the fifth.

The Lady Jays rallied with two in the sixth to take a 6-4 lead into the seventh as Lindsey Drooger walked with two outs and scored on a triple by Hall, who came home on an infield single by Hermeling.

Skwira and Garding helped STC force extra innings with doubles in the seventh, while Samantha Steffes (2-for-5) delivered the game-winning hit in the eighth with a two-run single. Cyclone pitcher Sabrina Zimmel (four earned runs on 10 hits, three walks, a hit batter and five strikeouts in eight innings) retired the final six Lady Jays to complete the win for the visitors.

"There were some mistakes that we made and we talked about that after the game," Hayenga-Hostikka said. "It was our first game on dirt, and we've got a lot of fresh minutes of learning experience.

"In an extra-inning game, it can come down to that one time where you didn't hustle or didn't back up a play. You never know what's going to happen so you just have to take it as a learning experience and the next time, you hopefully don't make that mistake."

Kazemba, Macey Edwards and Tiffany Gehl (steal) each were 1-for-4 for the Lady Jays in the first game.

Game 1 R H E

SCT 220 000 23 -- 9 13 3

MW 200 022 00 -- 6 10 3

Game 2

Minnesota West 4, St. Cloud Tech 0

After being roughed up in the opener, Kazemba set the tone early in the nightcap, putting the Cyclones down in order to start the game. She also recorded the first out of the game by catching a hard line drive back to her in the circle.

"I thought she just pitched a gem in the second game," Hayenga-Hostikka said.

Kazemba (1-for-4 with three RBIs) also used her bat to help her cause, driving home the eventual game-winner in the bottom of the first by plating Hall, who (2-for-4) reached on an error, stole second and moved to third on a Hermeling ground out. Kazemba knocked in two insurance runs in the sixth with a two-out, two-run double that scored Drooger (single) and Kari Suby (fielder's choice).

"We were able to fix everything and get our hits together (after the first game)" Kazemba said. "The defense played really well behind me."

The Minnesota West outfield of Drooger (left field), Jenny Majerus (center field) and Suby (right field) combined to track down eight of the 21 outs, while Cheyenne Platz (third base), Behrens (shortstop), Hermeling (second base) and Macey Edwards (first base) provided support on the infield. Platz, who had four assists, started a key double play in the second inning by doubling off a STC runner after snagging a line drive with two Cyclones on and no outs.

The Lady Jays added a run in the fourth when Haley Rogers reached on an error and scored on a single by Hall before MW scored the two insurance runs in the sixth.

Behrens was 2-for-4 with a double, while Hermeling added a single and steal in the game.

"It was nice to see us come back and win the second game of the doubleheader," Hayenga-Hostikka added. "I always think it is tough when you lose a tough first game like that. That can really get you down a little bit.

"That's huge to see us come back to win the second game. That's a big split for us."

The doubleheader was also the Minnesota College Athletic Conference Southern Division opener for the Lady Jays. Minnesota West improved to 3-4 overall and 1-1 in the league.

The Lady Jays host Ridgewater in a league doubleheader Wednesday.

Game 2 R H E

SCT 000 000 0 -- 0 4 3

MW 100 102 X -- 4 8 2