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State softball: Pipestone Area, E/SWC win openers

The Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian softball team treats coaches to high-fives in celebration of their win over Sebeka High School in the state Class A girls softball tournament. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)1 / 6
The Pipestone Area Arrows come off the field celebrating a win over Esko in state Class AA girls softball. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)2 / 6
Pipestone Area's Shelby Bloemendaal (3) throws another strike in a game against Esko. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)3 / 6
Edgerton/Southwestern Christian's Jessa Nibbelink runs for first base after laying down a bunt Thursday against Sebeka. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)4 / 6
Edgerton/Southwest Minnesota Christian's Chynna Berning steels third base in a game against Sebeka. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)5 / 6
The Arrows' Morgyn Carson (in black) records a putout on Esko's Eskomos Emilee Wilson (16) at first base in state Class AA girls softball. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)6 / 6

NORTH MANKATO -- Section 3 champions Pipestone Area and Edgerton/Southwest Christian were impressive in the first round of Minnesota state tournament softball play on Thursday, and both teams advanced to semifinal action later Thursday night.

Pipestone Area, behind a strong pitching performance by Shelby Bloemendaal, defeated Esko 4-1 in the Class AA tourney. Edgerton/Southwest Christian blasted Sebeka 14-0 in five innings in its Class A opener as pitcher Sierra Van Dyke tossed a no-hitter.

Caswell Park in North Mankato is the home of the entire tournament.

Pipestone Area was scheduled to play Maple Lake at 5 p.m. in the AA semifinals. E/SWC was set to play New Ulm Cathedral at 7 p.m.

Bloemendaal struck out 12 batters in seven innings, allowing just two hits to Esko batters. She walked no batters. Teammate Mandi Miller was 3-for-3 at the plate.

Miller singled in the first inning and scored later on an error. The Arrows plated three more runs in the third as Morgyn Carson, Miller and Logan Winter all hit RBI singles. Esko scored its only run in the fifth inning.

Pipestone Area earned consolation championships in 2016 and 2017, both times losing first-round state tournament games. Thursday's result assures the Arrows of finishing higher in the tournament when it concludes on Friday.

In its Class A opener, Edgerton/Southwest Christian demolished Sebeka with six runs in the first inning, two in the second and six more in the third. In the first, a Jessa Nibbelink bunt single (on the very first pitch) got the rally started. She stole second base and scored on a Jazzy Prins single. Gabby Buckridge hit an opposite-field line drive single to drive in the second run. Emily Nerem bunted to load the bases with two out. Jasmine Jensen hit a pop fly behind shortstop that fell in, allowing two more to score. An infield RBI single by Olivia Veldkamp scored another, and the final run of the inning came home on another bunt single by Nibbelink.

A two-out wild pitch by Sebeka hurler Ava Rathcke scored the first run in the second inning, and Nerem had a bunt single to drive in the second run.

In the third, Buckridge hit a two-run double and Chynna Berning followed with a two-run home run just inside the left-field foul line. A wild pitch scored the 13th run, and a Jensen sacrifice fly scored the 14th.

Van Dyke was excellent throughout. The Trojans, a young team with all but three of its players sophomores or younger, never seriously threatened to mount a rally.

Edgerton/Southwest Christian will take a 19-3 record into Thursday night's game. Pipestone Area is 23-2.

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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