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FAIRMONT - Abby Kamm and Rachel Strandmark perfectly fit the descriptions of an ideal leadoff hitter and No. 2 batter, respectively.
Kamm and Strandmark combined for a 5-for-7 effort in the batter's box, scored five total runs, swiped four bases and collected two RBIs to jumpstart defending Class AA state champion New Ulm's 11-1, five-frame softball triumph over the Fairmont Cardinals on Monday at Cardinal Park.
"I didn't teach them how to use their speed, but I appreciate the way they do," Eagles' coach Kristi Andersen Loose said in reference to her basepath bandits.
Kamm, who went 3-for-4, set the table during New Ulm's first at-bat by slapping a leadoff single to right and promptly stealing second base in the South Central Conference contest. Kamm moved to third on Strandmark's deadened bunt hit in front of the plate, and Strandmark never broke stride in reaching second on the play.
Fairmont right-hander Mikayla Krzywicki hit No. 3 batter Brittany Hoffmann with an offering to load the bases before Cardinal third baseman Micaela Gochanour delivered a defensive gem to limit New Ulm's damage to a solo run. Gochanour gloved a one-hopper off Kali Denn's bat and pegged a strike to catcher Tieryn Arens for a force at the plate.
Strandmark later scored on Ellie Schneider's sacrifice fly to right before Krzywicki scooped up a comebacker to exit further damage.
The Cardinals answered with a solo run in the home half of the first behind three hits before Eagles' ace right-hander Sydney Schuck notched a pivotal strikeout to escape.
Courtney Guetter singled, moved to second on Gochanour's sacrifice bunt and reached third on Courtney Whitmore's infield hit. Kristen Campe reached on a fielder's choice before Allison Moeller singled home Whitmore to knot the score at 1-all.
Despite four more defensive gems by the Fairmont defense, New Ulm utilized its quickness to generate two runs in the second, four in the fourth and four more in the fifth to exit the ballpark early.
Kamm notched an RBI infield hit, Strandmark plated a run with a fielder's choice, while Schneider and Katie Forst followed with RBI singles to trigger the Eagles' four-run fourth.
Brittany Hoffmann and Schneider later smacked RBI singles in the fifth before relief pitcher Hannah Backer drilled a two-run double to create a double-digit deficit for the Cardinals.
Schuck allowed one earned run on five hits, struck out three and did not issue a walk in three innings of work to earn the victory. Backer fanned four without issuing a free pass in pitching two shutout innings of three-hit relief.
Krzywicki allowed 11 runs on 13 hits, struck out two, walked three and hit three batters in five frames to take the loss.
Fairmont (0-4, 0-2 SCC) travels to Waseca today for a 5:30 p.m. game. New Ulm (7-1, 3-0) plays host to St. Peter at 5:30 p.m. today.