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Prep softball: Worthington prevails over Luverne

BY AARON HAGEN The Globe WORTHINGTON -- Haley Grimmius knew her team needed a spark. And in the third inning, the eighth-grader on Worthington's softball team provided what the Trojans needed Thursday afternoon. Grimmius drove in a run and later ...

Softball Trojans vs Luverne web.jpg
Worthington's Kami Bird tries to steal second Thursday as the Luverne Cardinals' Rylee Olson 31 applies the tag for the out. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

BY AARON HAGEN

The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Haley Grimmius knew her team needed a spark.

And in the third inning, the eighth-grader on Worthington’s softball team provided what the Trojans needed Thursday afternoon.

Grimmius drove in a run and later scored in the third -- en route to a two hit, three-RBI day -- to lead Worthington to a 6-2 victory over Luverne.

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“I knew I had to come through for the team,” Grimmius said. “As soon as we scored, I knew we would keep going with runs. We had to get the spark going.”

Sydney Ponto threw five shutout innings for the Trojans and Grimmius threw the final two as WHS picked up its 11th win of the season.

“They’ve had a really good year,” WHS head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka said. “Again, it’s another really good win for us.”

Luverne’s Billi Connell led off the game with a double, but that was the only runner that would be in scoring position against Ponto. Rylee Olson had the other hit against the right-hander. Ponto did not allow a walk and struck out three.

“I just keep going and know that if I let them hit it, my team will be there to back me up,” Ponto said. “It’s easy when I have a solid team to back me up out there.”

After two scoreless innings, the Trojans came alive in the third. Hailey Cauwels led off with a double and scored on Grimmius’ single. She scored as Sophie Wietzema followed with a triple.

“We like those top two kids to set the table a little bit and we are definitely getting great production from three, four, five in there,” Hayenga-Hostikka said. “The middle of the order has really come through all year and they are swinging the bats. I thought we played a really good defensive game. We had a couple of bobbles at the beginning, but other than that I thought we were pretty solid.”

With a 2-0 lead, Ponto continued to fire away.

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“It was easy to relax and easy to throw. I feel like when it’s 0-0 and a close game, it’s a little more pressure and it’s hard to keep going and keep throwing. I threw my changeup more than I have,” Ponto said. “I have a bunch of different pitches, so mixing them around and being able to hit my spots like I could today helps a lot.”

The Trojans broke the game open in the fifth. Jaycee Turner led off with a single and Cauwels reached on a fielder’s choice. Payton Sauerbrei reached on an error and with the bases loaded, Grimmius drove in two with a single.

“The last game, I didn’t think I hit the best, but I came through today,” Grimmius said. “I was just fired up. I knew it was our last home game with the seniors, so I really wanted to win for them.”

Sauerbrei and Karen Dykstra each scored on double steals as the Trojans took a 6-0 lead.

In the sixth, Luverne’s Gracie Bosch singled and Olson drove home the Cardinals’ only runs of the game with a two-run home run.

“We didn’t play too bad,” LHS head coach Brooks Maurer said. “The one inning was a little tough, we made an error or two and left some pitches over the plate a little bit too much. But overall, we didn’t play too bad. Worthington played well, they hit the ball hard and give them credit for that.”

It was the final regular-season game for both teams. Luverne (11-6) opens the section tournament on Tuesday, while the Trojans begin postseason action on Thursday.

“I’m really excited to see how it turns out,” Ponto said. “I’m very proud of how we’ve played this season.”

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Luverne 000 002 0 -- 2 6 2

Worthington 002 040 x -- 6 7 1

Softball Trojans vs Luverne 2 web.jpg
Luverne's Gracie Bosch (12) tries to scramble back to first base after a caught ball. But Haley Grimmius (left) makes the putout. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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