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Worthington 18U softball team splits pair with Tracy

U18 Softball Worthington vs TMB S2.jpg
Worthington 18U player Hannah Kazemba slides into home plate safely Thursday at Centennial Field as Tracy catcher Katelyn Danielson signals to teammates to not make the throw. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

WORTHINGTON -- Hannah Kazemba tried her best on Thursday to give her father, Worthington 18U softball coach Jim, some credit for her development as a pitcher. But Dad was having none of it.

“He helps us a lot,” she said, referring to herself and older sister Faith, who is also a pitcher on the team.

“How?” she was asked.

Hannah smiled. “He drives us to practice.”

Jim Kazemba, sitting about 10 yards away from Hannah as she conducted her short interview, laid credit where credit is due. “It’s not me,” he interjected. “It’s her four older sisters who make her better.”

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Indeed, the Kazemba family is steeped in softball pitchers, and the two Kazembas who still perform with the Worthington 18U fast-pitch softball team are carrying on the tradition. Hannah pitched three innings and Faith pitched one in the first game of a doubleheader against Tracy Thursday at Centennial Fields in Worthington, and Faith started two innings in the second game.

The teams split, with Worthington winning the first game 7-2 in four innings and Tracy winning the second game 6-4 in five.

Hannah allowed just two third inning runs in the first game, and the bats helped the home squad to a five-run first inning. Maddy Peterson and Pressly Sieve stroked RBI singles.

In the second inning Peterson drove in another run with a base hit, and in the third Lauren Nelson singled home a run.

But Tracy turned the tables in the second game as Faith, slow to find her rhythm on the pitcher’s rubber, surrendered four first inning runs, highlighted by Olivia Peterson’s two-run triple. Tracy led 5-0 before Worthington got two runs back in the top of the second inning. In the fifth, Worthington hitters Jessenia Nunez (with a three-bagger) and Lila Duron (with a double) led the way to two more local runs.

Taylor Ponto also pitched for Worthington. Mady Swan handled the duties for Tracy and was the winning pitcher.

Worthington’s second-game loss dropped the team to 3-1 on the season, but despite the split against Tracy, the local 18U team showed plenty of talent in the important areas of pitching, hitting and defense. The Kazemba girls are also solid hitters and defensive players -- Faith showing off a good glove and strong arm from the shortstop position and Hannah exhibiting good range in center field. Up and down the lineup, the Worthingtonians swing capable bats.

As a pitcher, Hannah did throw compliments to her older sisters during her on-field interview between games.

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“They knew different pitches and they taught us how to get faster and more accurate with our pitching,” she said. “Rocking your weight back or taking a step back … Just a lot of practice, and keeping my arm close to my body and close to my hip.”

Hannah said she tries her best to compete with her sister, which isn’t easy because Faith throws the ball hard. Regardless, she’s happy to be a member of the 18U team.

“Everybody seems to enjoy it, and everybody is very friendly,” she explained. “We just get along well.”

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