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WHS softball season ends in a tight one with St. Peter

The Worthington Trojans high school softball team went toe-to-toe with St. Peter Thursday in Section 2AAA competition, but fell in the bottom of the seventh inning.

Softball
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NORTH MANKATO -- A walk-off single with the infield drawn in gave the St. Peter High School girls fast-pitch softball team a 6-5 victory over Worthington Thursday night in the Section 2AAA tournament, ending the Trojans’ season at 11-11.

The seventh-seeded WHS squad was beaten 8-0 by second-seeded Mankato West in its first game at North Mankato’s Caswell Park just minutes before the start of the St. Peter contest. Worthington, which had gone deep in the 2021 tournament a year earlier, received good play from a variety of its players against the sixth-seeded Saints, but that final “big play” didn’t materialize.

It was the last high school appearance for Trojan seniors Haley Grimmius and Olivia Hayenga, and they both went out fighting. So did their younger teammates.

Down 3-1 in the fifth inning, Worthington used a one-out double from Hannah McNab, an RBI single from Hayenga, an intentional walk to Grimmius and a soft two-run single into right-center field from Marin Pederson for three runs to tie.

In the top of the seventh, trailing 5-4, a two-out double from Maddie Petersen perfectly placed in the left-center-field gap knotted the score. Marin Pedersen scored the run as the St. Peter catcher was unable to corral the throw to the plate.

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St. Peter loaded the bases with nobody out in its half of the seventh, then Nora Whipps scooted a sharp ground ball through the right side of the Trojans infield for the win.

Trojans
Trojans

The Trojans were clearly ready to play on Thursday. Their defense, which had been sometimes spotty on other days, was solid. Their hitters, which were also inconsistent at times, came up with hits in key situations.

Grimmius, whose pitching and hitting lifted the program to the heights over the last three seasons, slugged a home run over the left-field fence in the first inning against St. Peter. As a testament to her offensive abilities (she’d hit three other homers against the Saints in previous games this spring), she was walked intentionally her next three times up, even to lead off the seventh inning in a deadlocked game.

She will be greatly missed next year as she continues her softball career at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Grimmius walked off the Caswell Park field able to smile, however.

“It was a good game to go out on. It was a hard-fought game. We gave it our all,” she said, adding that she’ll be playing with her South Dakota Renegades team in the summer before heading to Augustana.

“It’s a little sad (to be done with high school), but I’m ready for the next level. Another one’s going to open up with a new opportunity, a new city.”

Grimmius pitched every game for the Trojans in 2022, and the team didn’t seem to get the breaks they got in 2021. They stayed close to Mankato West for two-plus innings on Thursday, but the highly-talented Scarlets then began to pull away. The Trojans collected only one hit -- a double by Grimmius in the seventh -- but starting pitcher Lauryn Douglas held them hitless through six.

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The game against St. Peter could have gone Worthington’s way in the end. But it didn’t.

“This year, we didn’t get the close games that we got last year. We had a lot of new players that didn’t play much softball before this year. I’d say we did pretty good with a lot of new players,” Grimmius said.

Her coach, Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka, was pleased with her team Thursday night.

“I’m proud of the way we played in that game (against St. Peter),” she said. “We had our chances. That’s kind of been the story of our season in some ways. We just couldn’t win those close ones.”

Though Grimmius and Hayenga -- who’ll play basketball for Hayenga-Hostikka at Minnesota West next winter -- were the leaders on the WHS softball team, there were others who made good strides. McNab had three hits against the Saints. Sophomore right-fielder Abby Linder, coming back from an injury, looked good at the plate and made several plays in the field. The catcher, Petersen, in her first year handling the hard-throwing Grimmius, had a solid all-around season.

“How big of Maddie Petersen to step up and hit that gap shot? I wasn’t gonna stop Marin no matter what,” Hayenga-Hostikka said.

Game One

Worthington 000 000 0 -- 0-1-0

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Mankato West 104 120 x -- 8-9-0

Game Two

Worthington 100 030 1 -- 5-7-2

St. Peter 000 311 1 -- 6-9-3

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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