Bounce-back time: Trojans look sharp in baseball, softball victories against Adrian/Ellsworth
The Worthington Trojans had been struggling in baseball, and the softball team appeared weary. But both squads bounced back against Adrian/Ellsworth on Monday.
Worthington’s ball-playing high school teams needed something good to happen Monday night in their games against their I-90 rivals from Adrian/Ellsworth.
The baseball team came in with a 4-14 record, showing spottiness with their pitching, their defense and their hitting. The softball team started strong but had slowed down lately, looking weary at times due to a heavy schedule after a cold, wet May forced an unusual amount of postponements.
But both Trojans teams looked sharp against the Dragons. The baseball team subdued a talented Adrian/Ellsworth team in Adrian, 6-2. And the softball team routed the Dragons 21-0 in a 4-inning game in Ellsworth as ace pitcher Haley Grimmius returned to form with a perfect game.
Worthington 6, A/E 2
ADRIAN -- Pitchers Blake Ahrenstorff and Tucker Brandner engaged in a tag-team effort to keep the Dragons’ bats in check.
Ahrenstorff, who helped himself with a solo home run over the left-field fence, pitched three and two-thirds innings, allowing just two hits and walking four. His most impressive inning was the third when A/E put runners on second and third base with nobody out but failed to score when the hard-throwing right-hander struck out the heart of the order -- Evan Lenz, Dawson Krahling and Takoby Mack -- to retire the side.
Brandner came on with one out and runners on second and third in the fourth. He gave up a two-run double to Quentin Wolf but shut the home team down the rest of the way. He put the Dragons down 1-2-3 in the fifth inning, striking out two.
“Our pitchers just attacked the zone. They worked at a great pace,” said WHS head coach Skyler Wenninger.
Brandner, a sophomore, was aggressive throughout.
“I just wanted to hit the strike zone. I wanted to get strikeouts, but I knew if I kept it around the plate I had a good defense behind me,” Brandner said. “I missed a spot (in the fourth). … I was just thinking I’d get the next batter. Usually when it comes down to the end of the game, I throw hard. My hat falls off sometimes. It did fall off once.”
Worthington led 4-0 before Adrian/Ellsworth scored its two. Tucker’s older brother Jake hit an RBI single in the first and scored on a wild pitch.
Wolf and Lenz handled the Dragon mound duties.
Wenninger said the Trojans still need to be smarter at the plate despite winning. A/E coach Joe Kruger was disappointed with his team’s hitting as the Dragons fell to 11-8.
“We didn’t do enough to win. What’d we have, two hits, three hits? You’ve got to give Worthington credit, but we didn’t help ourselves out,” Kruger said. “We gotta hit the ball better, definitely. Not only hit the ball, we’ve gotta have more productive at bats.”
Worthington 210 101 1 -- 6 5 2
Adrian/Ellsworth 000 200 0 -- 2 3 1
Worthington 21, A/E 0
ELLSWORTH -- Monday’s perfect game wasn’t the only perfect game Grimmius has pitched. But it came at a great time, as the Trojans begin section tournament time on Thursday.
Not only did Grimmius retire every Adrian/Ellsworth batter she faced, but she struck out nine in the four-inning contest. At the plate, she was also perfect, going 4-for-4 with a two-run home run, two doubles and a single for six RBIs.
Hannah McNab was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and three runs scored. She drove in four runs.
Olivia Hayenga had one hit in one official at bat and scored four runs. She showed her toughness by getting hit by a pitch four times, and she stole two bases.
Bailey Ponto had two more hits for WHS.
“This was a great game for us, going into sections Thursday,” said head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka. “We had 14 hits tonight, so hopefully that gives some confidence at the plate.”
Kaysie Lenz and Leah Kruse pitched for A/E.
Worthington 41(11) 5 -- 21-13-0
Adrian/Ellsworth 000 0 -- 0-0-0