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MW SOFTBALL: Lady Jays end thrilling day 3-0

ROSEMOUNT -- Wednesday was a day worth waking up early for the Minnesota West softball team. Competing at the Irish Sports Dome up in the metro area in Rosemount, the Lady Jays started the day with a 7 a.m. game. They ended the day with a 3-0 rec...

ROSEMOUNT -- Wednesday was a day worth waking up early for the Minnesota West softball team.

Competing at the Irish Sports Dome up in the metro area in Rosemount, the Lady Jays started the day with a 7 a.m. game.

They ended the day with a 3-0 record, including a pair of walk-off victories.

"We have to play more games in the early morning, I told them," MW head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka said.

Minnesota West's first opponent for the day was Vermillion.

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The Lady Jays jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first inning, but the Ironwomen responded with a four-run third inning.

MW added runs in the third, fourth and sixth innings to take a 3-run lead into the seventh inning, but closing out the win didn't turn out to be a simple task.

Vermillion loaded the bases with one out, and then MW thought it had gotten out of the jam by turning a game-ending double play. However, the runner at first was called safe to extend the game.

The next hitter launched a three-run home run to give the Ironwomen the lead.

"It's a little deflating when you kind of think you have the game in hand and you give up four in the top of the seventh there," Hayenga-Hostikka said.

However, Stephanie Maras drew a walk for the Lady Jays to lead off the bottom half of the inning, and Katherine Kazemba followed with a walk of her own.

LoRel Christensen (3-for-4, two runs, five RBI, two doubles, home run) followed with a walk-off three-run blast to give the Lady Jays a 10-8 victory, making a winner of Katie Hadler (7 innings pitched, five earned runs).

"Sometimes it's hard to get things going again when you lose the lead like that, but yeah -- it was a fun game," Hayenga-Hostikka said.

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Kazemba went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in the game and scored four runs. Kaitlin Banck was 1-for-3 with 2 RBI.

Minnesota also struck first in its next game -- a 9 a.m. contest against Mesabi Range -- with two runs in the fourth inning, but the Lady Norse immediately responded with a three-run fifth inning.

The score remained 3-2 until the bottom of the seventh inning, when the Lady Jays again put together a rally for a walk-off victory.

Banck began the rally with a single, and Alyson Drooger followed with a single to put runners on the corners. Drooger then stole second.

Kelsey Wolthuizen then put the tying run across the plate with an RBI-groundout, setting the stage for pinch-hitter Emily Ebbers.

Ebbers slashed a single through the right side of the infield, completing the comeback for a walk-off 4-3 MW win.

"It was nice with Kelsey especially to get that tying run in where we had second and third," Hayenga-Hostikka said. "She did her job, she hit the ball to second base, to the right side on the ground and punched it through. That's always good to see because we've been kind of trying to work on situations like that where you don't necessarily have to get the huge monster hit, but just put it in play and get it on the right side and score. It was kind of the same thing with (Ebbers), she kind of punched it through the right side too, so that was nice to see."

Ebbers also pitched all seven innings to pick up the win, allowing three runs (two earned), one walk and striking out three.

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The Lady Jays' offensive effort was balanced all around, with five separate players recording one hit apiece, with all four RBI spread out between four players as well.

Minnesota West's third victory came about in less dramatic fashion against Rainy River.

MW scored three runs in the first inning and four runs in the third. In the meantime, Maras (five innings pitched, three hits, one earned run, one walk, two strikeouts) shut down the Voyageurs offense.

"I think Rainy River had beaten both Mesabi and Vermillion earlier in the day pretty handily," Hayenga-Hostikka said. "Steph did a great job and mowed them down basically in the first, second and third innings and just pitched a great game."

The Lady Jays sealed the win with an eight-run fourth inning, bringing into effect the mercy rule and ending the game after five innings with the score 15-1.

Christensen was 3-for-3 with three runs, a double and a solo homer in the game. Kazemba had a great all-around effort with a 3-for-4 performance at the plate with three runs, four RBI, a solo home run and two stolen bases.

Sam Lynn had a pair of hits -- including a triple -- and scored one run and knocked in one other, and Drooger went 2-for-3 with three runs batted in.

Kayla Vander Veen made her first appearance in a softball game since seventh grade in the contest, contributing a fine performance with a 2-for-3 day at the plate with a run, and RBI and a stolen base.

"That was a good way to end the day where we had a lot of people get multiple hits and spreading it around," Hayenga-Hostikka said. "Rainy River's a decent team, it was just one of those games where Steph really did a good job and it was kind of contagious with the bats."

The day's events were extra pleasing for the team considering coming through in the clutch has often been a sore spot for the team in the past.

"It was pretty fun to have two in a row come down to the bottom of the seventh and get some huge clutch hits," Hayenga-Hostikka said. "That was kind of our Achilles' heel last season where we couldn't get the clutch hit when we needed it. It was very promising to see that happen two games in a row in the bottom of the seventh, get some big hits and manufacture some runs, so that was fun."

The Lady Jays (5-7) are scheduled to play at home Friday against Anoka Ramsey and at home on Saturday against St. Cloud Tech, but both games may be postponed depending on field conditions.

R H E

Ver. 0 0 4 0 0 0 4 -- 8 9 3

MW 4 0 1 0 1 1 3 -- 10 9 2

R H E

Mesabi 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 -- 3 7 3

MW 0 0 0 2 0 0 2 -- 4 5 1

R H E

MW 3 0 4 8 0 -- 15 16 0

Rainy River 0 0 0 1 0 -- 1 3 1

Related Topics: SOFTBALL
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