NORTH MANKATO -- Pipestone Area earned a thrilling eight-inning victory over favored Maple Lake in the first round of the Minnesota state softball Class AA championships Tuesday at Caswell Park in North Mankato, and a couple of hours later Edgerton/Southwest Christian won its own Class A opener against Cherry, Iron.
The victories allowed the Arrows and the Eagles entry into Tuesday night’s semifinal games. Pipestone Area will play St. Charles later tonight at Caswell as the Flying Dutchmen go up against the top-ranked Class A team in the state, Randolph.
Maple Lake entered the tournament as the No. 2 seed and Pipestone Area went in unseeded. But the Arrows proved a tough out, winning 4-3 with the winning run scoring in the top of the eighth inning. Third baseman Madelyn Wiese led off with a single, then stole second. A bunt allowed Wiese to go to third base, and after a diving catch of a fly ball by Nicole Pals in left field -- with Wiese staying at third -- the Arrows’ Kyla Hubbling grounded to shortstop and the ball was bobbled to allow in the winning run.
The game was a pitcher’s duel between Pipestone Area’s Jessa Reinert and Maple Lake’s Taylor Hess. Both went the distance. Reinert’s first pitch was a slow strike, and throughout the game she changed her speeds well and stayed ahead of hitters.
Pipestone Area led 2-0 after three and a half innings, scoring in the first after a lead-off single by MacKenzie Manderscheid who stole second base, went to third on a bunt and scored on an infield grounder; and in the fourth on a two-strike, two-out double by Melody Remund.
Maple Lake rallied to lead 3-2 after five frames, but PA tied it in the sixth helped by a Maple Lake error.
Edgerton/Southwest Christian’s game, resulting in a 5-2 win, pitted the fourth-seeded Dutchmen against the fifth-seeded Tigers. Cherry scored in the top of the first, but E/SWC scored two in the bottom of the inning on hits by Makenzie Snyder, Paris Van Dyke and pitcher Addison Fleischman to load the bases, and after the next two batters struck out, a two-run bloop single by Brooklyn Moss.
The Flying Dutchmen took control in the fifth as Morgan Pap slugged a long three-run home run well past the left field fence.
Lauren Staples pitched for Cherry. Fleischman hurled six innings for E/SWC, and Van Dyke finished the seventh strong. The Dutch played excellent defense throughout the game.
Pipestone Area 100 101 01 -- 4 4 2
Maple Lake 000 210 00 -- 3 5 4
Cherry 100 001 0 -- 2 3 0
E/SWC 200 030 -- 5 7 1