State softball: Pipestone Area, E/SWC win openers
NORTH MANKATO -- Section 3 champions Pipestone Area and Edgerton/Southwest Christian were impressive in the first round of Minnesota state tournament softball play on Thursday, and both teams advanced to semifinal action later Thursday night.
Pipestone Area, behind a strong pitching performance by Shelby Bloemendaal, defeated Esko 4-1 in the Class AA tourney. Edgerton/Southwest Christian blasted Sebeka 14-0 in five innings in its Class A opener as pitcher Sierra Van Dyke tossed a no-hitter.
Caswell Park in North Mankato is the home of the entire tournament.
Pipestone Area was scheduled to play Maple Lake at 5 p.m. in the AA semifinals. E/SWC was set to play New Ulm Cathedral at 7 p.m.
Bloemendaal struck out 12 batters in seven innings, allowing just two hits to Esko batters. She walked no batters. Teammate Mandi Miller was 3-for-3 at the plate.
Miller singled in the first inning and scored later on an error. The Arrows plated three more runs in the third as Morgyn Carson, Miller and Logan Winter all hit RBI singles. Esko scored its only run in the fifth inning.
Pipestone Area earned consolation championships in 2016 and 2017, both times losing first-round state tournament games. Thursday's result assures the Arrows of finishing higher in the tournament when it concludes on Friday.
In its Class A opener, Edgerton/Southwest Christian demolished Sebeka with six runs in the first inning, two in the second and six more in the third. In the first, a Jessa Nibbelink bunt single (on the very first pitch) got the rally started. She stole second base and scored on a Jazzy Prins single. Gabby Buckridge hit an opposite-field line drive single to drive in the second run. Emily Nerem bunted to load the bases with two out. Jasmine Jensen hit a pop fly behind shortstop that fell in, allowing two more to score. An infield RBI single by Olivia Veldkamp scored another, and the final run of the inning came home on another bunt single by Nibbelink.
A two-out wild pitch by Sebeka hurler Ava Rathcke scored the first run in the second inning, and Nerem had a bunt single to drive in the second run.
In the third, Buckridge hit a two-run double and Chynna Berning followed with a two-run home run just inside the left-field foul line. A wild pitch scored the 13th run, and a Jensen sacrifice fly scored the 14th.
Van Dyke was excellent throughout. The Trojans, a young team with all but three of its players sophomores or younger, never seriously threatened to mount a rally.
Edgerton/Southwest Christian will take a 19-3 record into Thursday night's game. Pipestone Area is 23-2.