SLEEPY EYE - Larissa Helget was a home run away from hitting for the cycle and Laura Pelzel notched 13 strikeouts in No. 2-seeded Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 5-0 victory against No. 7-seeded Minnesota Valley Lutheran in the Section 2A North Subsection quarterfinals on Tuesday.
Helget led the game off with a triple before knocking a single in the second inning and a double in the fifth that drove in the Knights' fourth run of the game.
"That's why Larissa's there," said St. Mary's coach Wendy Owens of the leadoff spot. "She's disciplined at the plate and can come up with the big hit when we need it and it sometimes sets the tone. It's unfortunate, sometimes our girls depend on her too much to set the tone, but she did a nice job tonight."
Pelzel earned the win for the Knights (14-6, 11-5 Tomahawk) with her no-walk, 13-K seven innings of work, during which she allowed one hit - a two-out single by Karissa Schlottman in the first inning.
"She had an excellent game tonight," Owens said of Pelzel. "She definitely has come along as far as her pitching goes this year. [She has had] more confidence as this season has gone on and Bethany [Berkner] has done a nice job helping her behind the plate, calling the pitches and letting her know where the weaknesses are on the batter, and that helps too when she hits those spots."
Schlottman got the loss for the Chargers (4-18, 3-13), but did not allow the Knights to go on scoring frenzies outside of a three-run first inning and a two-run fifth.
"Karissa did great, she had a great year for us," said MVL coach David Biedenbender. "She kept a lot of teams off balance. She did a good job of changing it up with her pitches and popping girls up, grounding them out."
The MVL defense was effective in keeping the proverbial flood gates from opening at numerous points during the game.
A 7-5 throw from left fielder Kayla Perry got Ashley Helget out from advancing to third on a two-RBI single by Pelzel for the final out of the first inning. One inning later, Schlottman caught Emily Schumacher swinging that left Larissa Helget at third base after stealing a base on the first two pitches of the at-bat.
The Knights hit into a 5-3-5 double play in the fourth inning, where Johanna Kettner threw out Pelzel at first and then got Ashley Helget out on an attempt to advance to third with a throw back from Nicole Rieger at first. Schlottman got out of the inning by striking out Cassidy Smith.
Only three MVL batters reached base with Pelzel in the circle - all with two outs already recorded. Along with Schlottman's single in the first, Perry reached on an error by the second baseman in the second inning and Rieger reached second on another error by a St. Mary's outfielder in the third.
However, Schlottman grounded out in the next at-bat, leaving Rieger at second in what turned out to be the Chargers' closest shot at scoring in the game.
"After the first game, we just couldn't adjust to the speed of the pitcher in the second game," Biedenbender said. "And that hurt us."
One of the biggest mistakes a team can make at this point in the season is to overlook an opponent based on its resume coming in. That was one thing Owens tried to preach to her team in preparation for postseason play.
"We try not to overlook any team," Larissa Helget said. "Obviously you come to play every game."
St. Mary's will host No. 3-seeded Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity at 5 p.m. on Thursday in the North Subsection semifinals. From this point on, teams need to lose twice in order to be eliminated from the tournament.
"We have been hitting well the past week, so hopefully it will carry over," Larissa Helget said.
MVL 14, C/CM 4 (5 inn.)
Minnesota Valley Lutheran defeated No. 10-seeded Comfrey/Cedar Mountain 14-4 in five innings in the pigtail game that led into the Section 2A quarterfinals against St. Mary's.
Jordan Marotz came up big for the Chargers at the plate, going 3-for-3 with three RBIs and four runs. Two of her three hits were doubles.
Mary Kate Santelman tallied a game-high four RBIs with a 1-for-2 performance at the plate, during which she was walked twice. Johanna Kettner went 2-for-3 with one RBI and two runs, while Shelby Hammerschmidt drove in three runs on a 1-for-3 stand at the plate.
Cassidy Gode took the loss for the Rockets (2-17, 2-14), having given up 11 runs - eight earned - on six hits with seven walks in two innings of work. Beth Schumacher led the Rockets at the plate with a 2-for-3 stand that drove in two runs.
C/CM 100 03 - 4 6 2
MVL 382 01 - 14 8 2
Gode, Trebesch (3) and Treml; Schlottman and Santelman.
W - Schlottman (M) 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
L - Gode (C) 2 IP, 6 H, 11 R, 8 ER, 7 BB, 1 K
Leading hitters - C/CM: Forsyth 1-3 2 R, Schumacher 2-3 2 RBI, Treml 1-3 2 RBI, Eidem 1-2 1 R; MVL: Kettner 2-3 1 RBI 2 R 1 BB 1 K, Marotz 3-3 3 RBI 4 R 1 BB 2-2B, Maasz 1-1 1 RBI 1 R 2 BB, Santelman 1-2 4 RBI 1 R 2 BB.
MVL 000 000 0 - 0 1 1
St. Mary's 300 020 x - 5 9 2
Schlottman and Santelman; L Pelzel and Berkner.
W - L Pelzel (S) 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 13 K
L - Schlottman (M) 6 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
Leading hitters - MVL: Schlottman 1-3 1 K; St. Mary's: L Helget 3-3 1 RBI 2 R 2B 3B, Fleck 1-3 1 RBI 1 R, L Pelzel 1-3 2 RBI, Lux 1 -2 1 R.