WORTHINGTON -- A little rain, a little hail: All in all, a legitimate Minnesota spring opener as the Worthington Trojans fast-pitch team defeated visiting Adrian 12-2 in five innings Tuesday afternoon.
“Mr. Grim (assistant coach Brad Grimmius) told us to be Eskimos. So we’re not supposed to be cold. This team can play in any weather,” said leadoff hitter Hailey Cauwels, who went 2-for-3 and scored three runs.
In the season opener for both teams, played at the local Minnesota West field, Worthington conquered the elements in a 12-hit effort. The Trojans got a solid pitching performance from freshman Haley Grimmius, they ran the bases well, and they committed no errors on defense.
It was a cold afternoon, sometimes overcast and sometimes sunny. Light rain fell in the third inning, and a short delay occurred in the bottom of the fourth when hail smaller than the size of peas made an appearance.
Through all of that, WHS looked sharp.
“I’m just glad we’re playing. Most teams’ fields aren’t even ready yet,” said head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka. “I’m super-excited. I think we did a lot of things well.”
Worthington’s first three hitters collected seven hits between them. No. 2 hitter Payton Sauerbrei was 2-for-2 with two walks, four stolen bases and three runs scored. Grimmius was 3-for-3 with four RBIs.
The Trojans scored three first-inning runs highlighted by a Grimmius RBI single and a Ponto sacrifice fly. They added three more in the third as Sauerbrei raced home from third on a passed ball, another run scored from a line drive single off Adrian pitcher Avery Balster, and another scored on a Ponto RBI single.
Adrian got on the scoreboard in the top of the fourth. The first run scored on a double-steal. With one out, Sam Moulton doubled to put runners on second and third, and Jennifer Preuss followed with a single. The Dragons might have scored more, but Grimmius got out of trouble after loading the bases with one out.
Worthington bounced back with four runs in the bottom of the inning. Cauwels singled past short to drive in a run, Sauerbrei dragged a bunt for a hit to score another, and Grimmius singled to score Sauerbrei. Shawna Rogers then relieved Balster on the pitcher’s rubber, and she gave up a two-out RBI to Ponto.
Grimmius delivered a bases-loaded hit with one out in the fifth to drive in runs 11 and 12 and end the game.
Afterward, Cauwels pronounced herself a confident player, saying she worked in practice to fix a dip in her shoulder while batting, and a tendency to lunge at pitches.
She kept her feet under her on Tuesday, adding, “Last year we improved a lot. And this year I think we can improve a lot more.”
Hayenga-Hostikka was happy, too.
“I’ll take (12 hits) in five innings, for the first time out. Just a ton of positives. That’s what we think we’re capable of this year. Our expectations are pretty high this year. We have a standard that we want to play at. I feel like we have a really good start.”