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Prep softball: Sholes' line drive ends game early for Worthington

Worthington Trojans softball players Olivia Hayenga (11), Haley Grimmius (44), Stephanie Bauman (2) and Sophie Wietzema are all smiles late in Friday's game with Redwood Valley in Worthington. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

BY DOUG WOLTER

WORTHINGTON -- Pinch-hitter Jordyn Sholes had a chance to end the game Friday night with nobody out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning.

The Worthington High School junior had only batted two other times this year on varsity. But on a 2-0 count, Sholes slugged a line drive toward the right-field line at the Minnesota West softball field. The ball careened past the Redwood Valley right fielder. Bases cleared. Game over. Final score: 13-1.

Sholes said she didn’t have time to think before being called upon by head coach Rosalie Hayenga-Hostikka.

“I just ran out there,” she recalled.

Fortunately for Sholes, she’s been paying attention in practice. Hayenga-Hostikka, along with assistant coaches Skyler Wenninger and Brad Grimmius, have been going beyond the fundamentals with the Trojans this spring, and Sholes is soaking it up.

“We’ve been visualizing the plate so we get a good extension point. That means when you meet the ball at full extension you can hit with the most power,” Sholes said.

Hayenga-Hostikka was pleased for her pinch-hitter.

“She’s just a great kid. She works her tail off in practice. She doesn’t get a ton of opportunities,” said the coach. “But she’s really a great hitter. And she’s really the epitome of a team player.”

The Trojans moved their softball record to 7-3 by out-hitting Redwood Valley 11-3, getting a solid pitching performance from Sydney Ponto, and making several outstanding plays on defense. After plating seven runs in the bottom of the second inning for an 8-0 lead, the Trojans made two excellent plays defensively in the top of the third -- one by first baseman Haley Grimmius and another by center fielder Aracely Vasquez. Shortstop Payton Sauerbrei was outstanding throughout, at one point going deep in the hole to throw out a Cardinal runner in the fourth.

“I think it’s just a confidence thing,” Hayenga-Hostikka said about the team’s defense. “Even against New Ulm (a 9-0 loss Tuesday), we made some really great plays in the outfield.”

Against Redwood Valley, Ponto had three hits and three RBIs. A two-run single by Hailey Cauwels and RBI singles by Sophie Wietzema and Ponto highlighted Worthington’s seven-run second.

Only a solo home run over the center field fence by Redwood Valley’s Haley Garman in the fourth inning marred Worthington’s afternoon. Ponto went the distance inside the circle, showing a rise-ball as her out pitch.

“All-around, it’s just a really good game, I guess,” said Hayenga-Hostikka. “I can’t think of anything I can complain about.”

No surprise: Neither could Sholes.

“I just do whatever I’m told,” she said moments after her game-winner. “We’re all friends. I’ve been playing softball with these girls since I was 10, and we have bonding once or twice a week. We go to each other’s houses and eat and play games.”

Redwood Valley 000 10 -- 1 3 1Worthington 170 23 -- 13 11 1