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Good late start: Trojans softball team clips Fairmont 1-0 as Grimmius whiffs 18

The Worthington High School girls fast-pitch softball team won a pitchers' duel with Fairmont on Thursday at Centennial Fields

Worthington Trojans Lauren Nelson (17) and Hannah McNab practice a secret handshake between innings during a game with the visiting Fairmont Cardinals Thursday afternoon.
Worthington Trojans Lauren Nelson (17) and Hannah McNab practice a secret handshake between innings during a game with the visiting Fairmont Cardinals Thursday afternoon.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

WORTHINGTON -- Near the end of a masterful pitching performance by Worthington High School senior Haley Grimmius, a sudden roadblock appeared Thursday at Centennial Fields. In the top of the sixth inning with the Trojans nursing a 1-0 lead, Fairmont’s Kynlie Anderson rapped a one-out double over third base, then took third on a passed ball.

It was time for Grimmius to bear down.

She did, getting the next hitter on a swinging strike three. The next batter struck out on three pitches.

Trojans pitcher Haley Grimmius (23) throws a pitch during a game against visiting Fairmont Cardinals as catcher Maddie Peterson awaits the ball Thursday afternoon in Worthington.
Trojans pitcher Haley Grimmius (23) throws a pitch against Fairmont Thursday in Worthington as catcher Maddie Peterson awaits the ball.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Worthington went on to win its fast-pitch softball season-opener 1-0. After waiting for nearly a month to finally get on the field, through all the rain and cold of a frustrating April, the win was sweet for the home team.

“The first six games got postponed, so we were ready for this one. We hit the ball, we played defense,” said Grimmius, who pitched a full seven-inning game. She allowed only one hit, walked one, and struck out 18.

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“I started pretty tight,” Grimmius said. “But as the game wore on I got a little more loose. And when they did hit the ball, our defense made the plays. They did an amazing job.”

Worthington Trojans Bailey Ponto (6) gets the force out on Farmont Cardinals runner Emma Gudahl during a Thursday afternoon game.
Worthington's Bailey Ponto (6) gets the force out on Fairmont Cardinals runner Emma Gudahl Thursday.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Behind their ace pitcher, the Trojans went deep in the sectional tournament in 2021. They’re hoping to go even deeper this year. But to do so, they’ll probably need to hit the ball better than they did on Thursday.

Actually, they faced a tough pitcher in Fairmont’s Nevaeh Rahm, who allowed just three Worthington hits.

“I’ll take it. It’s the first time we really got to face a live pitcher. I think we put the ball in play. We definitely need to hit a little bit better,” said WHS head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka. “Some of it is just confidence, and for some of the girls it’s their first time on varsity. I think it was a little bit of nerves, a little bit of confidence. We didn’t strike out very much, and I was happy with that.”

Worthington scored the game’s lone run in the bottom of the first inning. Grimmius led off with a two-strike single between third and shortstop and was bunted to second base by shortstop Olivia Hayenga. She scored on a well-hit double by center-fielder Hannah McNab.

The Trojans had other chances to score. But Grimmius was stranded at third base in the third inning, and Abby Linder was cut down at third in the fifth when she attempted to take an extra base when a pitch got away from Fairmont catcher Chantel Moeller. Another WHS runner, McNab, was left at third base in the sixth.

Meanwhile, Grimmius started on fire and finished on fire. She sent down the Cardinals in order in the top of the first inning, all on strikeouts. She had another 1-2-3 inning in the second, with two more strikeouts. She retired the Cards 1-2-3 in the seventh inning, too, all on strikeouts.

The sixth inning was her moment of truth. With the potential game-tying runner on third, she said she told herself, “Just make the pitch. If they hit it, they hit it. But we were gonna come back and score.”

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Hayenga-Hostikka has learned to trust Grimmius to make excellent pitches in the clutch.

“You trust her in those situations. We all know what she’s capable of,” said the coach.

Fairmont 000 000 0 -- 1-1-1

Worthington 100 000 x -- 1-3-0

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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