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Section 3A softball: Jensen clutch hit helps E/SWC gain state

Edgerton/Southwest Christian Flying Dutchmen softball players celebrate after the last out in the Section 3A finale with Wabasso on Thursday. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)1 / 3
Jazzy Prins (1) trots to the plate after hitting a home run Thursday in the Section 3A softball championship game. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)2 / 3
Edgerton/Southwest Christian's Jessa Nibbelink (2) steals second base Thursday in Cottonwood as Wabasso's Cora Eichten (3) goes after the ball. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)3 / 3

COTTONWOOD -- The score was 3-3 in the bottom of the sixth inning. That was too close for comfort for the Edgerton/Southwest Christian girls softball team, which needed to beat Wabasso Thursday afternoon to secure its fifth consecutive trip to the Minnesota Class A state tournament.

With two outs and teammate Emily Nerem on second base, Jasmine Jensen knew it was up to her to make something happen. And she did. On a 3-2 pitch, the E/SWC senior catcher drilled a triple into the left-centerfield gap on a hot day in Cottonwood, scoring the go-ahead run. It held up for a 4-3 victory and the Dutchmen -- playing in their eighth straight Section 3A title game -- earned another state tournament bid.

E/SWC will open state tourney play on Thursday at Caswell Park in Mankato against a yet-to-be-named opponent.

Fans of the Dutch were getting a little nervous before Jensen’s RBI triple happened. No doubt, a few of them expected an easy victory because, after all, E/SWC defeated Wabasso 13-1 in five innings earlier in the same tournament. But by eclipsing the Rabbits on Thursday, the Dutchmen (who entered the game without a section loss) saved themselves from having to play Wabasso again.

Credit goes to Nerem, who got on base with a single, then stole second in the sixth. But it was Jensen who got the run home.

“I just knew when it was full-count on me, I had to be ready. I got the big hit. I didn’t want to go extra in this heat. … I just knew we had to pull something out of our hat,” Jensen said.

The pitch that she hit was right where she wanted it.

“Pretty much dead-center. (The pitcher) was just gonna throw that in there, get me to swing, Didn’t work out, I guess,” said Jensen.

For an entire game, Wabasso gave Edgerton/Southwest Christian all it could handle. Pitcher Sarah Franta was outstanding, mixing her speeds effortlessly and getting Flying Dutchmen batters to swing early and awkwardly. The Dutchmen scored first, however, in the bottom of the first inning on a two-out double by Chynna Berning.

Wabasso came back with two runs in the second on two-out RBI hits by Halle Huhnerkoch and Emily Benz.

E/SWC came back with two in the bottom of the third as Jazzy Prins stroked a two-run home run over the left-centerfield fence, scoring Jessa Nibbelink who singled earlier in the inning.

Wabasso tied the game at 3-3 in the fifth on a hard RBI single by Megan Rothmeier.

In the top of the sixth, the Rabbits threatened again with runners on second and third, but E/SWC hurler Sierra Van Dyke struck out Benz to strand them there.

Van Dyke pitched well, going the complete seven innings and allowing nine hits. She walked two and struck out six. Franta also went the distance for Wabasso.

Edgerton/Southwest Christian head coach Andrew Fleischman said he expected Wabasso to give his team a very competitive game. He credited Franta’s pitching performance, and a solid defense behind her.

“They didn’t give us any extra outs. The four runs that we got, we earned,” he said.

Though the Dutchmen are getting used to playing in state fast-pitch softball tournaments, Fleischman said they’ve never felt it to be their birthright.

“It’s special every time. It’s cliche, but we really only take one game, one practice, at a time,” Fleischman said. “And when things don’t always go exactly as we think they should go, we’re OK. We got some good players, and we know we’re going to be all right.”

Wabasso 020 010 0 -- 3 9 1

E/SWC 102 001 x -- 4 9 1

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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