A celebration for 700
By Jake Calhoun
Journal Sports Writer
SPRINGFIELD – Bob Mertz couldn’t feel the bitter wind as his players secured the final out to cement his monolithic milestone – he was too relieved to care.
Mertz, who has been the coach at New Ulm Cathedral for the past 35 seasons, won his 700th game with his team’s 12-0 five-inning rout of Springfield in the first game of a Tomahawk Conference doubleheader on Thursday.
“I’m honored to compete against him,” said Springfield coach Paul Dunn of Mertz. “He’s a good friend of mine – we go way back, played ball together way back when we were in New Ulm. His kids are always ready to play and they showed that tonight.”
After having their first two runs walked in, the Greyhounds (7-1, 5-0 Tomahawk) were ignited by a grand slam by senior Lindsay Simon on an 0-2 pitch down the middle before ever recording an out.
“She is having a nice year and she really set the tone,” Mertz said of Simon.
In Game 1, Simon finished 3-for-3 with two runs scored and two doubles to complement the four RBIs from her grand slam – the first home run of her varsity career.
Cathedral scored two unearned runs – both of whom advanced on a throwing error by Springfield catcher Sonja Fiedler – following Simon’s grand slam to cap off an eight-run first inning.
Eight of the Greyhounds’ nine starters batted in a run against Molly Dunn, who gave up 12 runs – nine earned – on 11 hits while walking eight and striking out three on 134 pitches in five innings of work for the loss.
“She struggled with the strike zone early and then gave up the long ball,” Paul Dunn said. “Her control just wasn’t there – I don’t know if she just wasn’t all the way warm. I can’t really say why, but she just wasn’t sharp and hopefully that is a short-lived thing.”
Pitching struggles were not exclusive to Springfield (5-5, 5-4), however. Cathedral starter Anna Mohr had a slightly tough time getting settled in in the circle, despite how minuscule it seemed in relation to her team’s offensive output.
“It took her a while to get used to the cold,” Mertz said of Mohr. “She walked a couple batters, which is uncharacteristic of her. But she just does a nice job; she’s got a nice change-up.”
Mohr gave up two hits – a double to Natalie Timm in the first inning and a single to Katie Rosnstengel in the second – while striking out four batters en route to earning the win in two innings of work.
Leah Krzmarzick added three strikeouts and allowed only one hit in her three innings of work to close the game.
After Game 1, Mertz was gracious, yet humbled at his milestone of 700 wins. He remains the state’s all-time winningest coach in softball and has also led Cathedral to six Class A state titles in his time as its coach.
“This isn’t about Bob Mertz, this is about everybody here – all the coaches and statisticians and players that have gone through this program – they need to share in this 700 also,” Mertz said. “It’s been a nice run, I’ve done it for 35 years. [There are] so many memories and this will rank up there with all the special ones.”
Mertz earned No. 701 in Game 2 of the doubleheader, as Cathedral beat Springfield 11-4.
Mohr got the win with seven strikeouts, while Krzmarzick got the save in two innings of work.
Karlee Pfaff led the team with a home run and two RBIs, while Jenessa Rothmeier scored three runs with two hits.
Timm got the no-decision in the circle, having given up two runs on no hits. Molly Dunn instead got the loss.
Cathedral will play Comfrey/Cedar Mountain at 5 p.m. on Monday at Comfrey. Springfield will play Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart at 5 p.m. on Monday at Hector.
N.U. Cathedral 821 10 – 12 11 0
Springfield 000 00 – 0 3 4
Dunn and Fiedler; A Mohr, Krzmarzick (3) and Pfaff.
W – A Mohr (N) 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 0.00 ERA
L – Dunn (S) 5 IP, 11 H, 12 R, 9 ER, 8 BB, 3 K, 12.60 ERA
Leading hitters – N.U. Cathedral: Rothmeier 2-4 1 RBI 2 R, Pfaff 0-2 2 RBI 1 R 2 BB, Schwarz 1-1 1 RBI 3 R 2 BB, Simon 3-3 4 RBI 2 R GSHR 2 2B 1 BB; Springfield: Timm 1-2 2B, Rosenstengel 1-2 1 K, Arnoldi 1-2.