Greyhounds advance to state

NORTH MANKATO — The New Ulm Cathedral Greyhounds again punched their ticket to the Class A State softball tournament with 2-0 win to earn the Section 2A Championship.

The Greyhounds defeated the Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey Wolverines in a defensive battle to advance to the state tournament for the second consecutive year.

Cathedral’s Josie Pautzke stood in the pitcher’s circle for the Greyhounds, holding the Wolverines to just four hits in seven innings of work. Pautzke also added to her teams’ victory by starting two consecutive double plays in the top half of the first two innings.

“I am so unbelievably happy to be here again with different girls and a different team and I believe in them every single moment along the way,” Pautzke said. “They are a really good hitting team so just playing defense got us through the game — the double plays boosted us.”

The Greyhounds marked their section championship with a seventh-inning flyout double play and the players celebrated.

“We knew we could do it, we just had to keep their bats cold and shut them down, our defense had to come up big while the offense gave us timely hits,” head coach Jamie Portner said. “We just have to keep playing good softball.”

Cathedral broke the 0-0 tie with a run in the home half of the fourth inning when Emily Schommer hit a two-out single into left center. Pautzke assisted her own cause with a deep fly ball that was dropped up against the outfield fence in left field as Schommer round the bases and stopped at third.

A throwing error as the Wolverines tried to get the third out when Cathedral’s courtesy runner stole second. An off throw down to second reached the grass as Schommer crossed the plate.

“It is exciting to watch our seniors step up and be leaders while our young players matured into their roles,” Portner said. “We knew [Pautzke] had to shut them down and she did a very good job today, she gave up four hits and you can’t ask for more than that.”

The Greyhounds added an Insurance run when Megan Haala hit a solid line drive into the gap between right and center field to score Heidi Hoffmann from second. Haala’s RBI came as the Greyhounds faced two outs after Abby Beranek laid down the sacrificed bunt to put Hoffmann in scoring position.

“This whole year we have played our best with two outs, I can’t really explain it, when the pressure is on it motivates us instead of scares us and that is really the difference,” Hoffmann said.

The Greyhounds rallied in the home half of the first inning putting two runners in scoring position with only one out. Wolverines pitcher Molly Carnell was able to pitch out of the jam by delivering a strikeout and serving up an infield groundball to end the inning.

Carnell took the loss for the Wolverines, pitching six innings and giving up six hits and two runs.

Hoffmann lead the Greyhounds going 2 for 3 with a run, Haala went 1 for 2 with an insurance RBI and Schommer was 1 for 3 with the game-winning run.

Pautzke earned the win for Cathedral, pitching seven innings for the shutout on just four hits.