Eagles beat Arrows, will vie for 3-peat at Caswell

MARSHALL – After Saturday’s 4-1 winner’s bracket victory against Pipestone Area, New Ulm figured it had seen enough of that opponent to get a pretty good scouting report should the they meet again in the Section 3AA finals.

That’s exactly what happened and New Ulm was very aggressive.

New Ulm took extra bases whenever it could, creating tough situations for Pipestone Area. New Ulm did commit six errors, but it scored 13 runs in a 13-9 win.

The win means the Eagles (19-4) will play in their third-straight state tournament. The two-time defending state champions will play the champions from Section 6AA (either Staples-Motley or St. Cloud Cathedral) at 11 a.m. Thursday at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

Senior Abby Kamm was one of the many Eagles who took some extra bases. She scored two runs and had two hits in Thursday’s contest.

“During the season, we always practice those plays and we never really show them until we get to the tough games,” Kamm said. “We’re always trying to take as many bases as we can and trying to make them make as many errors as they can and we can take advantage of those bases.”

The New Ulm lineup was solid in all nine spots on Thursday. Briana Sieve, who hits ninth for New Ulm, had a couple of hits, including a two-run double down the third base line in the bottom of the second that gave the Eagles the early 2-0 lead.

“I went in and Kristi [coach Kristi Andersen Loose] gave me the sign to swing away,” Sieve said. “I thought, ‘maybe I’ll bunt,’ but it was a meatball and I took it.”

New Ulm added a run in the third inning on some aggressive baserunning. Rachel Strandmark advanced to third after Kali Denn reached on an error. On that same play, Kali Denn broke toward second base and got caught in a rundown, which allowed Strandmark to sprint home for the game’s third run.

Pipestone Area took advantage of a couple errors in the top of the fourth to score twice, but New Ulm bounced back with a six-run inning in the bottom of the fourth to go up 9-2. Brittany Denn had a two-run double and Katie Forst also had a two-run single in the inning.

After that, runs were frequent for both teams. The Arrows scored two more runs in the fifth and three in the sixth to make it 9-6, but the Eagles added some runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth to make it 13-6.

Pipestone put up two more runs in the seventh, but a liner right at New Ulm pitcher Tori Botten ended the game.

Botten went the distance, allowed eight runs and nine hits.

Eighth-grader Shelby Bloomendaal took the loss for the Arrows. She went 3 2/3 innings and allowed eight runs.

Kamm finished the game with three hits and Strandmark, Ellie Schneider, Sieve and Kali Denn all had two hits.

The two teams usually end up playing two games for the right to go to state, but New Ulm needed just one game this time around.

“The girls knew coming in that we did give ourselves that little boost,” Eagles coach Kristi Andersen Loose said. “We didn’t play our best ball and we know that, but being able to not play our best ball and still win and have the offense to back it up, that’s fantastic.”

It’s the third time for Kamm going to state. She said the feeling never gets old.

“The feeling, it never goes away,” Kamm said. “From the first one we won and now this one is the same. It’s a great feeling, you can never replace it.”

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