NORTH MANKATO - All New Ulm Cathedral needed was one big inning to return to the state finals.
Smack-dab in the middle of a pitcher's duel, Cathedral squeezed a three-run string by Cherry's senior pitcher Kacey Herring, which proved to be the deciding factor in a 3-0 Class A state semifinal victory on Thursday at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
"[Herring] was out of the strike zone and I think she was getting hit a little bit more than she thought she was going to get hit by us," said Cathedral coach Bob Mertz. "We're a good hitting team and we got enough bat on the ball to get some runs in."
Staff photo by Steve Muscatello
New Ulm Cathedral left fielder Janessa Rothmeier (1) makes a catch as she runs during the Greyhounds’ win against New York Mills in the opening round of the Class A State Tournament Thursday at Caswell Park in North Mankato.
For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com
The Greyhounds (25-1, 16-0 Tomahawk) were driven defensively by sophomore pitcher Anna Mohr, who pitched 10 of their 13 innings on the day and amassed nine strikeouts while allowing three hits in the complete-game win against Cherry to complete the two-game shutout. She split her innings with Leah Krzmarzick in the team's six-inning 13-0 victory against New York Mills in the quarterfinals earlier in the day.
A lot has changed for Anna Mohr, who started in the circle for Cathedral in last year's sixth-place finish at state.
"This year I have a lot more experience as a pitcher because last year I was a freshman," Mohr said. "The feel of the state tournament, it's not anything new and surprising."
Mohr walked into the pitcher's circle for the first time on Thursday morning with a 5-0 lead, which was thanks to the fast start that the Greyhounds are somewhat known for. They scored five runs on five hits in the top of the first with an RBI each from Lindsay Simon, Anne Schwarz and MacKinnon Ehlenz as well as two RBIs from McKenna Berdan.
"It's really nice to come out strong, but we always have to remember to play on our toes and not sit back on our heels," said Schwarz, who went 2-for-4 and notched five RBIs in the quarterfinals.
The Greyhounds' prowess at the plate made things difficult for Autumn Roberts, who got the loss for the Eagles (23-5, 10-2 Park Region). She gave up nine runs (six earned) on nine hits to the Greyhounds in five innings.
Berdan and Ehlenz both went 2-for-3 for the Greyhounds. Berdan had two RBIs and two runs scored, while Ehlenz had one RBI. Jenessa Rothmeier also went 2-for-4 with one RBI and two runs scored.
In the semifinals, the three-run fourth inning was spurred on by a no-out single by Karlee Pfaff that drove Abby Hauser to third base after a leadoff walk. Herring hit Schwarz to load the bases and then walked Berdan to give Cathedral a 1-0 lead.
Leah Krzmarzick drove in Pfaff while pinch-hitting for Mohr with an RBI single before Ehlenz drove in Schwarz on a 1-2 fielder's choice that did not record the out.
Mohr was perfect through four innings and had six of her nine strikeouts during that time. Herring finished with eight strikeouts in getting the loss.
Cathedral will now play New Life Academy in the Class A championship game at 2 p.m. on Friday at Caswell Park in North Mankato. New Life Academy won four-straight Class A state titles from 2008-2011, a streak that began one year after Cathedral won its last title in 2007.
"They want it so bad; they can feel it," Mertz said. "They've been talking about it all year long and now we've got one. We're in that championship game, now we've just got to bring it home."
Cathedral 520 024 - 13 12 1
NY Mills 000 000 - 0 6 4
A Mohr, Krzmarzick (4) and Pfaff; A Roberts, R Roberts (6) and M Roberts.
W - A Mohr (C) 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
L - A Roberts (N) 5 IP, 9 H, 9 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 2 K
Leading hitters - Cathedral: Rothmeier 2-4 1 RBI 2 R, Pfaff 1-3 1 R 2B, Schwarz 2-4 5 RBI 2 R 3B, M Berdan 2-3 2 RBI 2 R 1 K, Ehlenz 2-3 1 RBI; NY Mills: A Roberts 1-3, R Roberts 1-3, M Kane 1-2 1 BB, Flanigan 1-2 1 BB, K Kane 1-3.
Cherry 000 000 0 - 0 3 0
Cathedral 000 300 x - 3 5 0
Herring and L Anderson; A Mohr and Pfaff.
W - A Mohr (Ca) 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K
L - Herring (Ch) 6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K
Leading hitters - Cherry: L Anderson 1-3 1 K, Ab Mayry 1-3, Roberts 1-3; Cathedral: Pfaff 2-3 1 R 1 K, M Berdan 1-2 1 RBI 1 BB, Krzmarzick 1-1 1 RBI.