St. Mary’s survives in 2A

SLEEPY EYE – Taking advantage of mistakes was a key for the Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s softball team in its 4-2 victory against No. 3-seeded Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity in the Section 2A quarterfinals on Thursday.

The Knights (15-6, 11-5 Tomahawk) scored four unearned runs – two in the second inning and two in the third – with four hits to their name to advance. The Bulldogs (12-7, 8-1 MCAA) notched twice as many hits but managed to score only two runs against Laura Pelzel, who got the win in the circle for the Knights.

“She hit her spots perfectly today – I called the pitch, she hit it,” said senior catcher Bethany Berkner of Pelzel. “Me and her are really getting better at that now; we’ve been together since we were 6.”

After two quick flyouts, the Bulldogs were one out away from solidifying two scoreless innings for both teams. However, a single to the right-center gap by Pelzel tallied the Knights’ first hit of the game and was followed by the first baseman dropping a routine ground ball that allowed Natalie Schroepfer to reach on the error with Pelzel going to third.

The very next at-bat, freshman Anna Lux drilled a first-pitch fastball over the right fielder’s head to drive in Pelzel and Schroepfer for a standup triple and a 2-0 St. Mary’s lead.

“I don’t know if people overlook [Lux] and she’s a decent batter,” said St. Mary’s coach Wendy Owens. “I put her in the [No.] 9 spot just because she’s a freshman, to take that pressure off of her and allow her to have some fun as a freshman and she’s done a nice job for us there.”

In the first at-bat of the bottom of the third, senior Emily Schumacher laid down a bunt and managed to reach on a throwing error by the third baseman. She was then driven in by Karissa Fleck, who also reached with a bunt on a throwing error by the catcher that sailed deep into the thick of the foul territory grass, which allowed Schumacher to score. Freshman Emily Ludewig, who was pinch-running for Fleck, was eventually driven in by Ashley Helget’s sacrifice groundout for a 4-0 lead.

“Right now, the girls have been told that they need to take advantage of every opportunity given to us,” Owens said. “We also hit deep, but right to them tonight. It wasn’t that we weren’t making contact with the ball – we have tended to do that a lot this year – we have been hitting the ball, but we hit it right to the outfielders.”

Harley Hentges drove in Hope Feltmann in the fourth inning and Lauren Kahle drove in Kaitlyn Stibal in the seventh for the Bulldogs’ two runs of the game. Pelzel stranded two runners on base each in the scoreless second and sixth innings.

St. Mary’s will now play rival and No. 1-seed New Ulm Cathedral in the Section 2A semifinals at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

“Me and Laura, we’re going to have to find their weaknesses right away to stop their home runs because they had a lot when we played them,” Berkner said of the Greyhounds. “We’re going to have to bring our bats out like we did tonight because our bats haven’t been too strong when we’ve played Cathedral.”

LP/HT 000 100 1 – 2 8 3

St. Mary’s 022 000 x – 4 4 2

To Trettin and Nix; L Pelzel and Berkner.

W – L Pelzel (S) 7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K

L – To Trettin (L) 6 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K

Leading hitters – LP/HT: Kahle 2-4 1 RBI 2B, To Trettin 1-2 1 BB, Hentges 2-3 1 RBI; St. Mary’s: Berkner 1-3, L Pelzel 2-3, Lux 1-2 2 RBI 1 K 3B.

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