Sleepy Eye storms back for 2A playoff win over Nicollet

Staff photo by Travis Rosenau Sleepy Eye pitcher Katelyn Tauer winds up for a pitch during a Section 2A softball playoff game against Nicollet on Wednesday at Prairie View Park in Sleepy Eye.

SLEEPY EYE — The old saying of it not being how you start but how you finish perfectly summarized Sleepy Eye’s first-round playoff game against Nicollet.

After 12th-seeded Nicollet jumped out to a 6-0 lead Wednesday at Prairie View Park, the fifth-seeded Indians regrouped in the later innings to pull out an 8-6 comeback win in the opening round of the Section 2A Softball Tournament.

The loss ends the Raiders’ season with an 8-13 final record.

Sleepy Eye, meanwhile, moved to 15-6 with the win and will travel to Springfield for a 5 p.m. playoff game Thursday at Riverside Park. Springfield downed Minnesota Valley Lutheran 11-1 in five innings Wednesday to advance to the second round.

A win Thursday moves Sleepy Eye on in the winner’s bracket, while a loss knocks them down to elimination play. Both sides of the tournament continue Saturday at Caswell Park.

Indians starting pitcher and senior Katelyn Tauer surrendered six runs, four earned, in the complete-game win on four hits and two walks. She struck out 13.

Tauer had to overcome a rough first inning that saw the Raiders score four runs on one hit. Tauer hit a pair of batters in the inning also and had a pair of wild pitches that didn’t help her cause.

But she allowed just one hit after the first two innings as her team started to come alive at the plate in the middle innings. Tauer had 1-2-3 innings in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

Tauer said her turnaround came with increasing the velocity on her pitch and having a short memory with that rough opening inning.

“Just getting into my groove and having my method that I needed to start with at the beginning of the game that I didn’t,” Tauer said. “Just kind of get it into what I needed to get into and going a little faster and not staying slow like I was in the first inning. And I just think not worrying about what happened and just forgetting about what just happened.”

After Tauer started the game by walking Morgan Black on a full count, a dropped third strike saw Lydia Martens reach with no outs. A pair of wild pitches allowed Nicollet to take a 1-0 lead before Tauer hit Cason Forbrook with a pitch.

A delayed double steal scored another run before Tauer got the second out of the inning on a strikeout. Matilda Carleton singled in another run on a grounder just inside the first base line. A walk to Chloe Kachelmeier and an error allowed Madison Kettner to reach and load the bases before Zoey Rengstorf was hit by a pitch to bring in another run for 4-0 Nicollet lead.

The Raiders went up 6-0 in the second. An error allowed Martens to reach to lead off that inning before Leah Bode drove her in with a double to right. Jazmyn Goettlicher then singled to right to score Bode for the 6-0 lead.

Nicollet pitcher Leah Bode looked solid early on before Sleepy Eye got into the hit column with two hits in the third. No damage came of those hits, but the fourth inning did see the Indians make something of their hits.

With two outs and the bases loaded in the fourth, Jaelynn Schauman got Sleepy Eye off and running with a bases-clearing double to right-center to trail 6-3.

That clutch hit didn’t immediately spark the Sleepy Eye bats, but it eventually was a sign of things to come as the Indians scored five more runs in the fifth for the 8-6 lead.

“It was really fun because everybody’s spirits were all up and [I] was just trying to get something going,” Jaelynn Schauman said of her three-run double. “I was 0-2 in the count and I was freaking out a little bit. But then I saw that one [fastball], I just connected with it and it went out there and everybody was cheering so loud. That’s when our spirits started to rise and that’s when we started connecting.”

Taylor Berkner singled to lead off the bottom of the fifth before Tauer walked and was pinch ran for by Megan Sellner. Nora Coulson then reached on a bunt single and Brissa Hernandez singled to left to score Berkner. Jace Schauman walked in a run before a sac fly by Julia Berkner tied the game.

Callie Evers singled in a pair of runs up the middle to give Sleepy Eye the 8-6 final lead.

Coulson ended up leading the Sleepy Eye bats by going 3 for 4, while Jaelynn Schauman was 2 for 3 with her three-run double. Hernandez was 2 for 4 with her RBI.

Bode took the loss in all seven innings, allowing 10 hits and six walks for eight earned runs while striking out eight. Forbrook had Nicollet’s last hit in the seventh on a single.


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