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Pipestone Area pounces on Luverne, wins Section 3AA softball crown

The Pipestone Area Arrows used a 13-run first inning to beat Luverne and advance to the state Class AA softball tournament

The Pipestone Area Arrows hold up the trophy after beating Luverne in the Section 3AA softball championship Thursday in Marshall.
The Pipestone Area Arrows hold up the trophy after beating Luverne in the Section 3AA softball championship Thursday in Marshall.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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MARSHALL — In Troy Bouman’s decorated quarter-century career as head softball coach at Pipestone Area High, he’s seen his Arrows amass amazing victories and enjoy incredible innings.

But never has his team put together a frame like that which stunned the Luverne Cardinals here Thursday in the Section 3AA championship game.

“We’ve never had one inning like this in such an important game,” said Bouman, whose Arrows scored 13 first-inning runs and cruised to a 15-0, four-inning victory over Luverne.

Pipestone Area Arrows celebrate after beating out Luverne Cardinals during Section 3AA softball championship Thursday in Marshall.
Pipestone Area softball players celebrate after outscoring Luverne in Section 3AA softball championship Thursday, earning a state tournament berth.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

Pipestone sent 17 batters to the plate and had an amazing 12 hits in the bottom of the first inning. Kyla Hubbling, Madelyn Wiese and Toryn Woelber each had two hits in the first.

So did Melody Remund, who knocked in three runs with two line-drive singles in the opening frame. Both of her hits came on the first pitch from Luverne ace Gracie Nath. It was an aggressive approach also utilized to advantage by several other Pipestone hitters.

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Luverne, which finished a highly successful season at 20-5, entered the day needing to beat Pipestone twice to earn a sectional title. But the Arrows took control right away and never let up.

“We didn’t want to give them a second chance,” said Remund. “We all just wanted to go for it. Normally we like to watch the first pitch, but a lot of times that’s going to be the best pitch so we wanted to swing at it.”

Remund finished 3-for-3 with four RBIs. Kayla Hubbling, Kyla Hubbling, Woelber and Brynn Manzey all had two runs batted in for Pipestone.

The Arrows, 15-9 this year, advance to next week’s State AA tournament in North Mankato. It will be Pipestone’s 13th state-tourney trip since 2003 under Bouman, who in 25 seasons has more than 450 career victories, including a state championship in 2007.

Pipestone Area Arrows Kayla Hubbling gets a high five from teammate Brynn Manzey (20)  after scoring a run on Luverne Cardinals during Section 3AA softball championship Thursday in Marshall.
Kayla Hubbling gets a high five from Pipestone Area teammate Brynn Manzey (20) after scoring Thursday.
Tim Middagh / The Globe

That history of success helps the Arrows in big games.

“It definitely encourages you,” Remund said. “All those banners on the wall mean a lot and they’re inspirational. We have great coaches and a great team.”

While the Arrows were hitting so well, Pipestone pitcher Mariah Moeller was breezing through the normally potent Luverne lineup.

Moeller pitched a three-hitter and did not walk a batter. Her teammates played errorless ball.

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“My game plan was to throw strikes and know my defense has my back,” Moeller said.

The Cardinals hit several balls hard in the first inning, but got nothing out of it. Then the Arrows came to bat. And soon thereafter the rout was on.

“They came out aggressively and it seemed like everything they hit found a gap,” said Luverne coach Brooks Maurer. “Some days that’s the way it goes. We’ve been on the other end of it, but not today.”

The Cardinals were seeking their first state-tournament trip. The hard-throwing Nath is just a sophomore, but Luverne loses several talented seniors to graduation, including University of Minnesota-bound slugger Billi Connell.

“This team is really special,” said Maurer, whose squad swept a doubleheader from Pipestone earlier this spring. “They really came together, and I’m proud to be their coach.”

Certainly the Cardinals have the respect of the perennially powerful Pipestone program.

“Hats off to Brooks,” said Bouman. “He’s done a great job at Luverne. They hit some ‘at-em’ balls right at us early and every ball we hit seemed to find a hole. And it just snowballed.”

That’s for sure.

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Jadyn Kor slapped one in the left-centerfield gap on Nath’s second pitch of the game. Two batters later Kyla Hubbling drilled an RBI single for the first run of the game. Wiese, Remund, Woelber, Manzey and Aubrey Kor followed with consecutive base hits.

And the hits kept coming. Later with two out in the first, Pipestone’s Kayla Hubbling, Kyla Hubbling, Wiese, Remund and Woelber again strung together consecutive hits.

It was an inning that won’t soon be forgotten in Pipestone’s glorious softball history. And so the Arrows are back in the state tournament again.

“Our girls have worked extremely hard,” Bouman said. “We’ve had a tough year with injuries and dealt with a lot of different things. But our kids have fought through it and found ways to get wins. We’re playing good softball at the right time.”

Luverne 000 0 — 0 3 6

Pipestone (13)01 1 — 15 15 0

Scott Mansch, who in a crowded Viking tavern has been known to say “Go Pack Go” at times in complete disregard for his health, can be reached at smansch5rockets@gmail.com
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