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Section 3A softball: E/SWC seals fourth-straight state tournament berth

COTTONWOOD -- The Edgerton/Southwest Christian softball team proved it can overcome adversity as it claimed the Section 3A championship with a 7-4 victory over Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg on Thursday at Lakeview High School in Cottonwood and sealed...

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COTTONWOOD -- The Edgerton/Southwest Christian softball team proved it can overcome adversity as it claimed the Section 3A championship with a 7-4 victory over Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg on Thursday at Lakeview High School in Cottonwood and sealed a berth in the state tournament.

After the top of the first inning, the Flying Dutchmen found themselves in a 2-0 hole -- not a place the No. 1-ranked team in Class A and the defending state champions are used to being. But the Saints are no slouch, as they carried a No. 5 ranking into the game, and proved they were worthy competitors as Samantha Gjerde and Tori Everson put two on the board in the opening frame.

But the Dutch weren’t worried. They just needed to catch their breath.

“We know that we can’t get down on ourselves and we can’t get mad at each other,” E/SWC catcher Jenny Nelson said. “So we took a timeout and all huddled together and said to all calm down and just talked a little bit and after that it was all smooth.”

After they calmed down, the Flying Dutchmen scored four runs in the bottom half of the inning and never looked back. Nelson drove in Liz Buckridge and Gabby Buckridge with a triple to right-centerfield. Jordyn Smith followed that up with a double that scored Nelson and and then Smit came around on a single by Chynna Berning.

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“I knew we could come back and as long as we kept our minds focused and knew what we were doing and did what we came to do, we would be good,” Liz Buckridge said.

For a squad that swept through last year’s state tournament by a combined score of 35-2, and then didn’t lose a regular season game against Class A competition, an early deficit to a Top 5 team was the kind of adversity E/SWC head coach Andrew Fleischman thinks will help them in the state tournament.

“K-M-S is a phenomenal team,” he said. “They gave us everything we could handle. This win battle tested us.”

After the first inning, E/SWC pitcher Liz Buckridge settled in and found a groove as she struck out two batters in the second and another in the third. She allowed four runs on six hits with four strikeouts and one walk.

The Dutch added two more in the fourth and Gabby Buckridge drove in Emily Nerem with a sacrifice fly to left field and Liz Buckridge drove in Jaidyn Henstra with a groundball single up the middle. And in the fifth inning, Berning scored as Henstra reached on an error.

Nelson finished the game 3-for-4 with a double, a triple, a run, and an RBI, and was a major factor defensively behind the plate.

“A big thing in the game was that we were able to run a little bit and steal some bases, and Jenny really takes that away from our opposition,” Fleischman said.

Liz Buckridge was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI at the plate, while Henstra was 2-for-3 with a run and a stolen base, and Smit was 1-for-3 with a double, an RBI and a run.

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The Flying Dutchmen will compete in the Minnesota Class A softball tournament on June 8-9 at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

K-M-S 200 100 1 -- 4 6 3

E/SWC 400 210 x -- 7 11 2

Related Topics: SOFTBALL
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