Hauling in a victory

Knights end regular season with win over Wolverines

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau Sleepy Eye St. Marys’ Jasmine Petermann makes a running catch in right-center field in front of center fielder Addie Hoffmann during a nonconference softball game against Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey Friday at Prairie View Park in Sleepy Eye.

SLEEPY EYE — This year’s Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s Knights softball team may be young, but Friday’s regular season finale showed what they’re capable of when putting everything together.

The Knights (9-10) benefited from their underclassmen and seniors on Friday to run away with a 9-1 nonconference win over the Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey Wolverines at Prairie View Park.

The win was also a confidence builder for the Knights ahead of Section 2A playoffs next week.

In a 2024 season with some growing pains after graduating six key seniors from last season’s 19-2 squad, the Knights have just two seniors this year in catcher Alexa Pelzel and center fielder Addie Hoffmann.

Both players made a mark in the win over the Wolverines and both helped spark a six-run sixth inning that helped put things out of reach.

“Coach said we need to have the dynamic duo, so both bunting and hitting, and today was a great bunting night for us,” Addie Hoffmann, who was 1 for 4 with a run scored, said. “So if we bring both, we should do pretty great Tuesday.”

The Knights got the eighth seed in next week’s Section 2A tourney and are scheduled to host ninth-seeded Red Rock Central/Westbrook-Walnut Grove at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Pelzel led the Knights at the plate Friday, going 2 for 3 with an RBI.

While being one of two senior leaders on a team with five freshmen and four sophomores can be a challenge, Pelzel said she’s tried to help the underclassmen move on from early lapses and respond well.

“I think it’s really important to move on from a strikeout and show the girls that even if you strike out, it’s not the end of the world,” Pelzel said. “You move on and the next time you step in the box, it’s a new start. Hit the ball every time and do your best.”

The Knights certainly did move on from early struggles at the plate and got all six of their hits in the final three innings. They scored right away in the first after Josie Helget walked and Eva Schweiss sac bunted Helget to second. Helget continued moving from second after the bunt, however, and the Wolverines threw to third with nobody covering, allowing Helget to score for a 1-0 lead.

After an RBI single to left by Reagan Pedersen tied the game in the second, the Knights bunted their way on to start the fourth. Schweiss and Sidney Tauer both bunted to start the inning and reached on errors. A throw to try to get Schweiss out at third was thrown away, allowing her to score for a 2-1 Knights lead.

The Knights made it 3-1 moments later after Pelzel singled in Tauer. Nell Weiss also singled in the inning, but MLA/C pitcher Ashlyn Pfeiffer got back-to-back outs to end the inning.

In the six-run sixth inning, Addie Hoffmann reached on an infield single to lead off before Pelzel singled up the middle to put two on. A walk to Weiss filled the bases before Reese Hoffmann had a two-run single to right-center field for a 5-1 lead.

After Pfeiffer got her first out of the inning on a grounduout, Jasmine Petermann sent a pitch to deep right field to score two and end up on third with a triple. She scored on a wild pitch for a 7-1 Knights lead.

Helget was then hit by a pitch and took second and third on a wild pitch before Schweiss earned an RBI on a sac bunt for the 9-1 lead.

Knights freshman pitcher Taylor Mathiowetz got a 1-2-3 seventh to earn the win. She allowed just four hits and two walks for one earned run.

“I told her to throw as good as she has all season,” Pelzel said of Taylor Mathiowetz. “I put all my trust in her and I know she can get it across the plate and I’m just there to back her up and everyone else is on the field backing her up.”

While she has a tall task of filling in for her 2023 grad sister and last year’s All-Journal Softball Player of the Year Lacey Mathiowetz, Taylor Mathiowetz is still learning and getting better as the season goes on with fellow freshman pitcher Natalie Zarn.

“[Taylor’s] talked to Lacey a little bit about being in the pitcher’s role, but those two are completely different kids,” Knights head coach Kayla Mathiowetz said. “She’s been doing a nice job of coming in. Her and Natalie have been doing a nice job of sharing the pitching duties on the varsity mound and they work well together and have been doing a nice job of getting stronger as the season goes on. So, it’s been a great team duo that has been beneificial for us.”

Pfeiffer allowed six hits and four walks for six earned runs in the loss while striking out two. MLA/C, now 8-12, is the No. 10 seed on the opposite side of the 2A bracket and is at No. 7-seeded Cleveland for a first-round playoff matchup Tuesday.

Coach Mathiowetz added that her team has improved over the year and the underclassmen have done a nice job stepping up overall.

“These girls have been doing a nice job of getting better throughout the season,” she said. “They had to come in and they had some big shoes to fill and these younger underclassmen have come in and stepped up and done a nice job. They’re learning with each game that we have and they’re trying to get stronger with all of that.

“We’re moving some things around and see if we can figure out what works best for us. But, overall, they’ve got a good team dynamic and they work really well together.”

Pelzel and Addie Hoffmann know what it takes to make a deep run in the playoffs after the Knights finished as Section 2A runners-up last year. But with new faces on the field, Addie Hoffmann advised her younger teammates to be confident, which is even more crucial in the playoffs.

“A lot of it’s just their mentality,” she said. “With the younger players, they don’t have a lot of confidence, a lot of experience. So they just have to bring their all, they’ve got to believe that they can do it.”


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