MARSHALL - Anyone who has followed the Section 3AA softball playoffs during the past five years or so knows that it usually ends up with New Ulm and Pipestone Area battling it out for the right to go to state.
Once again, that looks to be the case this year.
The New Ulm softball team put itself in the driver's seat of the Section 3AA playoffs with a couple of victories Saturday in the Section 3AA playoffs.
Special to The Journal, from Jeff Arenz at The Marshall Independent
New Ulm’s Ellie Schneider watches Marshall first baseman Julia Marshall during a Section 3AA playoff game on Saturday at Marshall.
New Ulm defeated Marshall 13-0 in five innings in the first game before running into Pipestone Area in the second game.
There, the Eagles jumped out early and added a couple of late insurance runs to defeat the Arrows 4-1.
The loss means the Arrows drop to the elimination bracket and will play the winner of Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta and Jackson County Central at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Marshall.
New Ulm will play the eventual winner of Tuesday's action at 5 p.m. Thursday and will have to lose twice in order to be denied a trip to the state tournament.
Last year, the Eagles found themselves in a similar situation, losing to Pipestone Area in the first game of the championship series before emerging in the second game to head to the state tournament.
New Ulm 13, Marshall 0 (5 inn.)
New Ulm rolled over Marshall in a quick five-inning game, sending it to the elimination bracket.
The Eagles scored two runs in the top of the first inning, the big ones coming off the bat of Brittany Denn, who homered.
"We actually got on that pitcher really well," Denn said. "The whole team was on her and we had a lot of energy in the dugout. We were just ready to play."
Tori Botten pitched three no-hit innings for the win. Miranda Fischer took the loss for Marshall, allowing all 13 runs in five innings. New Ulm had six hits and Marshall committed six errors in the contest.
New Ulm scored two more runs in the third inning, then put the game away for good in the fourth with eight runs. Denn had two more RBIs in the inning with a two-run single and Katie Forst provided a three-run double.
The Eagles added another run in the fifth inning.
Denn finished the game with three hits, three runs scored and four RBIs and every single player in the starting lineup scored for New Ulm.
Sadie Zuhrbock broke up the no-hitter in the fourth inning of New Ulm's Hannah Backer. Julia Marshall had a leadoff single in the fifth for the other Marshall hit.
New Ulm 4,
Pipestone Area 1
Once again, New Ulm got off to a fast start, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Ellie Schneider had a sacrifice fly that scored Abby Kamm and Kali Denn provided a two-out double that scored Brittany Denn for the early 2-0 lead.
"We came up with a couple of clutch hits [in the second game] and considering the fact that we had four runs and five hits in the second game, the girls came up with the clutch hits when we needed them," New Ulm coach Kristi Andersen Loose said.
The Arrows had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the second inning, but they managed just one run after Tayla Sasavath scored on a double by Bianca Claussen.
That run was all that Botten allowed the rest of the way. She went the distance and allowed four hits. She struck out four.
Eighth-grade pitcher Shelby Bloemendaal retired 10 straight New Ulm hitters until the fifth inning. New Ulm added to the lead in the sixth inning after Botten helped her own cause with a two-out single that scored Brittany Denn. Forst scored an insurance run in the seventh for the Eagles as they held on.
Now the Eagles get Tuesday off and they await the eventual winner of Tuesday's action.
"I think we have the advantage in knowing we get a few chances," Andersen Loose said. "If things don't go our way in the first game, we have a chance to recover. Just being in the driver's seat - it's still going to be a dog fight and we've seen it go both ways before."