Greyhounds beat Indians 7-1 in Section 2A softball playoffs

Staff photo by Steve Muscatello New Ulm Cathedral’s Josie Pautzke drives a pitch during the Greyhounds’ Section 2A playoff win against Sleepy Eye on Thursday in New Ulm. For more photos of this event go to cu.nujournal.com

NEW ULM — New Ulm Cathedral put up seven runs against Sleepy Eye for the third time this season. For those who are not superstitious, this probably means nothing.

But those three Lucky 7s may be an omen for good things to come for top-seeded Cathedral, which beat No. 8-seeded Sleepy Eye 7-1 in the Section 2A softball playoffs on Thursday at Harman Park Field 3 in New Ulm.

Sophomore pitcher Josie Pautzke got the win for the Greyhounds (18-1), keeping Sleepy Eye — which put up 18 runs on 16 hits Wednesday against Springfield — off balance for the most part in getting the win.

“She did a really good job for us; I thought she hit her spots better than she has maybe all year,” Cathedral co-head coach Jamie Portner said. “She got a few people out with that changeup — she caught them off balance, which was really good to see that working today.”

The Indians (9-12) had an improved performance from freshman pitcher Kathryn Schroepfer after her 10-walk outing in getting the win against Springfield. Schroepfer hit her spots much better in getting the loss Thursday, accounting for just one walk and making Cathedral earn its hits.

“A hundred-percent happy with [her improvement],” Sleepy Eye coach Amber Waibel said. “We talked about the mental space she needed to be in for the game today and she executed the game plan exactly how I had hoped. That was nice to see going into Saturday.”

Senior McKenna Berdan led off the bottom of the first inning with a standup double to the left-field corner and fellow senior Nicole Gangelhoff got her to third with a shallow single to right field to put runners on the corners with one out. Pautzke then drove in both seniors with a double for the Greyhounds’ first runs of the game. Pautzke tallied a game-high three RBIs.

On the day, Berdan went 3 for 3 while Gangelhoff and fellow-senior Mason Brand both went 2 for 3 at the plate, all coming up big for the Greyhounds.

“They’re hungry, they want this,” Portner said. “Kenna’s been [on varsity] for four years, Nicki has been here for three and they really want this. They want to get further than we did last year.”

As a freshman, Berdan was the starting shortstop on the Greyhounds’ 2014 Class A state champion team, whereas Gangelhoff was a pinch runner as a freshman and later assumed a starting spot at third base as a sophomore.

Cathedral missed a scoring chance in the third inning involving both Berdan and Gangelhoff, but a leadoff double by Brand in the fourth was met with an RBI single by Berdan to make it 3-0.

Sophomore Lauryn Franta had a two-run double in the fifth inning as part of her 2-for-2 day, while Gangelhoff and Pautzke each had one RBI apiece in the sixth to give Cathedral a 7-1 lead.

Junior Hannah Schroepfer drove in pinch runner Morgan Klein in the fifth inning for the Indians’ only run of the game. Karlie Reis, M’Kayla Mike, Leslie Flores and Holly Helget all had one hit apiece — all of which were scattered.

“Overall I was happy with the way we hit the ball,” Waibel said. “We just couldn’t find gaps — those balls were just right to them every time. There’s just nothing you could do.”

Cathedral moves on to the Section 2A semifinals to face No. 5-seeded Cleveland at 10 a.m. Saturday at Caswell Park Field 1 in North Mankato. Sleepy Eye drops to the consolation bracket, where it will face No. 4-seeded Nicollet at 10 a.m. Saturday at Caswell Park Field 3.

Sleepy Eye 000 010 0 — 1 5 1

NU Cathedral 200 122 x — 7 12 1

K Schroepfer and H Schroepfer; Pautzke and Hazuka.

W – Pautzke (C) 7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

L – K Schroepfer (S) 6 IP, 12 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 K

Leading hitters – Sleepy Eye: H Schroepfer 1-3 1 RBI, Mike 1-3; NU Cathedral: M Berdan 3-3 1 RBI 1 R 2B, Gangelhoff 2-3 1 RBI 1 R, Pautzke 3-4 3 RBI 2B, Brand 2-3 2 R 2B, Franta 2-2 2 RBI 1 HP 2B.

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