NEW ULM - Although a stiff breeze turned the Minnesota Valley Lutheran Chargers softball field into a windswept meat locker, it was a soft grounder that inched into right field that won the game for the Springfield Tigers.
Kendra Brown's hit turned a 3-3 game into an eventual 5-3 victory for the Tigers, but the Springfield defense had little problem with the wind, which helped get the win as much as a couple of key hits earlier in the game.
"In general, we played good defense," coach Paul Dunn said. "(Pitcher) Molly (Dunn) threw strikes and we got clutch hits at the end."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
Springfield pitcher Molly Dunn winds up to deliver a pitch as Minnesota Valley Lutheran’s Carlie Maasz looks on Monday at MVL.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
For MVL, under new head coach Dave Biedenbender, it was still an encouraging start of the season.
"I was pretty happy we were able to come back from a 3-0 deficit and tie it up," Biedenbender said. "With a 5-3 score, we were just a couple of plays away from winning the game."
Springfield jumped to an early lead with one out in the first. Tiffany Schwanke reached on an error, then scored on a double to the right field fence by Katie Gatzlaff. A triple by Jordan Salonek and single by Becky Roiger made it 3-0.
After Dunn struck out the side in the second, the Chargers' Shelby Hammerschmidt led off the third with a walk and took second on an error after Charlotte Pfingsten's bunt. A double steal and wild pitch later, it was 3-1, with Pfingsten making it 3-2 on a Mikyla Weilage grounder.
MVL tied it in the fifth when Maasz led off with a hit, then went to third on a steal attempt that saw the ball go off a fielder's glove into right field. Emily Wessel then laid down a perfect bunt that allowed Maasz to score to tie the game. But the Chargers ended up leaving the bases loaded, the third time they stranded at least two base runners.
After finding Chargers pitcher Maasz tough to hit for four innings, Springfield took advantage of a couple Chargers mistakes to retake the lead. With one out, Sammi Miesen singled to right, Jenny Platz reached on an error and both runners advanced on a wild pitch. Then Brown hit the soft grounder between first and second to score both runners with the eventual winning runs.
Dunn had eight strikeouts, eight walks and gave up four hits, while Maasz fanned 14, walked one and allowed nine hits. Gatzlaff was 4-for-4 at the plate for the Tigers, while Weilage was 2-for-4 with a double for the Chargers.
Springfield (2-0) plays New Ulm Cathedral at 5 p.m. Monday in New Ulm at Harman Park, while MVL (0-1) travels to play Comfrey/Cedar Mountain at 5 p.m. today in Comfrey.