WHS thumps Lincoln County
WORTHINGTON -- It didn't matter if Worthington's Kristen Dierks was on the mound or at the plate Friday, she was dominant either way.
Dierks allowed four hits and struck out nine batters, while going 2-for-3 at the plate to lead Worthington to a 20-0 five-inning victory over Lincoln County in the play-in game of the Section 3AA playoffs.
"I thought I did pretty good," Dierks said. "I had a lot of strikeouts and only one walk, so that was good."
Facing an inexperienced Lincoln County (6-11) team, Dierks pounded the srike zone and recorded seven strikeouts in the first three innings.
"I didn't think their bats were that hot," Dierks said. "I just wanted to pitch strikes and if they swung, they swung, and if they hit it I let my defense back me up."
Needing to record only six outs defensively, the Trojans (7-12) made only one error in the field.
"We've been playing our best ball towards the end of the season, and we're starting to come around," Worthington head coach Sam Baumgartner said. "We were able to capitalize on their youth and make some things happen."
Offensively, Dierks had a double and a triple and drove in four runs.
"Kristen is really starting to come around with her bat," Baumgartner said. "She had a couple of extra base hits, and that's the thing that she's doing. Not only is she starting to hit the ball, but she's hitting the ball with authority."
After a slow start, Dierks has cracked two triples in as many days.
"My bat has finally come around," Dierks said. "At the beginning of the season, I struggled, but I got it now."
With the victory, the Trojans now get to face the defending state champion Pipestone Area Arrows Tuesday in Pipestone.
"We had all season to put ourselves in a better position, and we didn't," Baumgartner said. "Now here we are. Every team has to go through Pipestone anyway, so we might as well face them at the very beginning, and hopefully, give them a run for their money right away."
The Trojans hope to carry their offensive momentum into Tuesday's game against two nearly unhittable Arrow pitchers in Chelsey Evans and Bailey Bouman.
"I think this game is awesome, so I think our spirits are higher now," Dierks said. "Against Pipestone, I think we'll be stronger than we were last time."
While the Trojans face a tall order Tuesday, they were able to jump all over LC Friday.
Lynn Harberts and Rachel Pavelko (three runs) each walked to start the game, and both would score on Carrie Timmerman's single.
However, the Trojans left the bases loaded and only managed two runs in the first inning.
"We got out of the first inning with the bases loaded, and I thought maybe if we got one more inning out confidence would play a factor, and maybe put some burden on them," Lincoln County head coach Dave Busselman said. "I was looking to compete, and I told them we needed to compete each inning at a time."
While LC was able escape the first inning relatively unscathed, the second inning was where Worthington took control.
Lydia Mick reached on an error to start the inning and scored on an RBI sacrifice fly from Harberts.
Pavelko followed with a single, and would score on a wild pitch and Timmerman, who reached on a fielder's choice, scored on Hannah Solem's triple to give the Trojans a 5-0 lead.
With the bases loaded later in the inning, Pavelko delivered a three-run double as 16 batters came to the plate in the second inning. Before the inning was over, Worthington plated 11 runners with 10 of those runs coming with two outs.
"We got a couple in the first and saw what we were against," Baumgartner said. "Then we just relaxed and got a lot more comfortable in the second inning and everybody got their hitting shoes on."
The Trojans took advantage of two errors in the third inning and added two more runs to take a 15-0 lead after three innings.
"We need to learn to finish, and with a young team, that's part of growing, too," Busselman said. "We had some girls play out of position, and that hurts. But you do get something out of this, without even knowing. You learn things, and that's what we'll talk about on the bus ride home."
Worthington scored five runs on one hit in the fourth in a 20-0 victory.
"We missed some plays that we should have played, but that's just the snowball affect," Busselman said. "One error leads to two and two leads to a mess."
Worthington managed 20 runs on 13 hits, with every player except one scoring a run.
"You can hope for that type of production, but you can't count on that," Baumgartner said. "You never know what to expect when you come into a situation like this. Obviously they are a very young team, and their inexperience showed a little bit."
Worthington will play at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
"Hopefully this is a confidence builder," Baumgartner said. "We've been playing well at the end of the season, and hopefully we can continue this momentum. Now that we've earned the right to go up against Pipestone, we can carry some of this momentum in against them."
R H E
LC 000 00 -- 0 4 7
WHS 2(11)2 5X -- 20 13 1