As section seedings approach, WHS softball team fears no one

With Thursday’s 11-0 victory over a young Adrian/Ellsworth team, the Worthington High School fast-pitch softball squad felt able to look ahead to what should be a uniquely intriguing Section 2AAA tournament.

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Worthington Trojans Haley Grimmius (44) throws a pitch during a game with the visiting Adrian Dragons Thursday afternoon 05 20 21. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- With Thursday’s 11-0 victory over a young Adrian/Ellsworth team, the Worthington High School fast-pitch softball squad felt able to look ahead to what should be a uniquely intriguing Section 2AAA tournament.

Seeding won’t happen until next week, and the Trojans aren’t yet finished with their regular season. But they’re 13-4 and feeling frisky.

The irony is that, though the girls believe they can beat anybody in the tourney, they probably won’t be seeded any higher than fourth. The state’s top-ranked AAA team, Mankato West, is in Section 2AAA. So is the state’s third-ranked team, Mankato East. St. Peter is also having a fine year, and because the Saints swept Worthington in a doubleheader early in the year when several Trojans were unable to play, they, too, can probably count on getting a higher seed.

But seeds are only numbers, a fact emphasized by WHS shortstop Olivia Hayenga as she walked off Centennial Field Thursday night.

“Honestly, I’m not that worried. I’ll face anybody right now. I think we can do anything we set our minds to,” she said.


In the Trojans’ previous game, head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka was peeved that her team lost a 1-0 home contest to New Ulm -- a team they’d beaten 12-0 only a few days earlier on the road. The locals seemed to lose their focus at the plate.

But against the Dragons, they found it again. Catcher Sophie Wietzema pounded the ball twice for a pair of doubles, pitcher Haley Grimmius scorched the ball for another double, and the Trojans collected eight hits off two Adrian/Ellsworth pitchers. The Dragons are a young team, and with Thursday’s loss they fell to 2-13 on the season. But clearly, Worthington had regained its mojo.

“I felt like we stayed focused, we took care of business,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “I felt like our approach at the plate was way better than the other night.”

Hayenga-Hostikka added that she’s going to enjoy heading into the section tournament in the manner Worthington teams -- from all sports -- are familiar with. WHS teams tend to be disrespected whenever seeding meetings happen. Because Trojan teams don’t play similar schedules that most of their section rivals play, they are often seeded lower than they feel they deserve. In softball this year, they don’t play Mankato West or Mankato East at all in the regular season.

“As long as they don’t play us,” the coach mused about West, “we could go 16-0 and they’ll still be seeded ahead of us. … And it’s in all sports.”

No matter.

“I don’t care where we’re seeded. We still gotta beat ‘em. I know it sounds like a cliche, but we don’t fear anybody. I’m not afraid to play anybody with this team,” Hayenga-Hostikka said.

Grimmius has been overpowering on the pitcher’s rubber this year. Against A/E, she allowed a solid single to the Dragons’ Shawna Rogers in the first inning, then held the team hitless the rest of the way. She walked nobody and struck out 11.


Worthington scored three runs in the bottom of the first off A/E starter Leah Kruse, who walked four batters in the frame. Four more runs were scored in the second, another was added in the third, and three came home in the fourth.

Rogers pitched well after relieving Kruse in the second, but the WHS bats were swinging confidently through the strike zone.

There’s still a long way to go until June 3, when the section tournament gets under way at Caswell Park in Mankato. It was remarked that, although the Trojans may not get as high a seed as they deserve, the higher seeds have still got to give them respect.

“I hope they don’t,” said the coach.


Adrian/Ellsworth 000 00 -- 0 1 3

Worthington 341 3x -- 11 8 0


052021 N DG Trojans softball Vs Adrian Dragons s3.jpg
Adrian Dragons pitcher Leah Kruse (4) throws a ball during a game against host Worthington Trojans at the Centennial ballpark Thursday afternoon 05 20 21. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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