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State softball: PA wins AA third-place game in Logan Winter walk-off

Pipestone Area catcher Logan Winter tags Annandale's Kassi Hammond at the plate to save a run in the third inning of Friday's state Class AA softball game in North Mankato. Winter delivered a walk-off single in the eighth to win the game. (Doug Wolter/The Globe)1 / 3
Pipestone Area players hold their third-place state tournament trophy aloft. (Doug Wolter/The Globe)2 / 3
Pipestone Area players pose with their third-place state softball tournament trophy. (Doug Wolter/The Globe)3 / 3

NORTH MANKATO -- The score was 0-0, it was the bottom of the eighth inning. Two were out. The bases were loaded. And Pipestone Area senior catcher Logan Winter stepped to the plate in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

A moment earlier, Annandale pitcher Sarah Johnson walked the Arrows’ best hitter, Mandi Miller, intentionally to get to the cleanup hitter, Winter. That was a big mistake.

“When they walked Mandi, I just looked at (Logan) and said, ‘It don’t get any better than this.’ She just smiled,” said PA head coach Troy Bouman.

Winter worked the count to 3-1. The next pitch had to be a strike or the game would be over. Johnson threw it on the right side of the plate -- not where Winter, who prefers the inside half, likes it best. But it was good enough, and she swung the bat to meet the ball perfectly. It settled, uncatchable, into right-centerfield for a walk-off. Pipestone Area won, 1-0, to capture the Minnesota state softball Class AA third-place game.

A walk would have been good enough for the win. But Winter said she expected a strike.

“I think I knew, on that next pitch, I was going to go after it. I think it worked out for the best,” Winter explained. “I was expecting her to throw something on the plate -- give me something more to work with. It was on the plate enough so I could get out on it well enough to take a swing.”

Bouman has learned to have confidence in Winter in every clutch situation. The team and its fans were thrilled for her. Her father, Jamie, is struggling with ALS and could not make the trip. Bouman said Logan has been playing this season for him.

“She’s had an unbelievable year, with what she’s gone through. It don’t get any better than have her come through and have the big hit for us,” said the coach, who described Winter as a clutch player who understands the game well and is a great teammate.

“I’m so proud of her. We’ve been playing alongside of each other since third graders,” said pitcher Shelby Bloemendaal, who locked horns with Johnson for seven and a half scoreless innings and emerged with the win. “That’s the way games are supposed to be played, you know? Don’t expect to go out here and kill everybody.”

Pipestone Area lost on Thursday to eventual champion Maple Lake by a 12-3 score. By bouncing back on Friday, the Arrows finished on a winning note and bettered their performance of the last two seasons when they earned consolation championships.

“It feels great. We were definitely all disappointed in last night’s game. But we kept our heads high, went out and played, and ended our season with a win,” Bloemendaal said.

Bloemendaal and Miller were named to the Class AA All-Tournament team.

Through six full innings, Bloemendaal and Johnson mowed down hitters. In the third inning, Pipestone Area got out of trouble when rightfielder Mallary Remund caught a potential sacrifice fly and cut down an Annandale runner at the plate. Pipestone Area could not get a runner past second base against Johnson until the eighth. In innings one, two and three, Johnson mowed down the Arrows 1-2-3.

Johnson finished with a seven-hitter, with one walk and 10 strikeouts. Bloemendaal allowed just two hits in her eight innings, with two walks and four strikeouts.

But Winter was the hero, although she was reluctant to accept the title.

“I think anyone could have stepped up in that position. It just happened to be me in that spot,” she said.

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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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