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Softball team has a weekend of wins and losses

Photo by Joseph Lovercheck

Rachel Vogt, Staff Writer

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The Wildcat softball team went 3-3 this past week in Thursday’s contest against Winona State, Saturday’s contest against University of Mary, and Friday’s contest against Minot State.

No. 9 Winona State delivered a loss to the ’Cats in the opening game on Thursday, with big innings to steal an 8-0 victory and later completed the sweep with a dominant pitching performance to bring home a 4-0 victory.

Senior Rachel Shumaker said the Wildcats knew Winona was going to be a tough team.

“They had strong pitching and we were hitting the ball, but they weren’t those timely hits like they were getting,” said Shumaker.

The opener remained scoreless until the bottom of the third inning, when the Warriors exploded for five runs on four hits and one Wildcat error. The big hit of the inning came from Warrior left-fielder Mariah Schultz, who hit a two-run home run.

The Warriors pushed three more runs across in the fourth on six hits to make the score what would end up being the final at 8-0. Wayne State could not respond in the top of the fifth to fall in just five innings.

“We knew going into the second game we needed to just keep hitting the ball and work on having good at bats,” said Shumaker.

The second game of the day saw Winona State use a dominant pitching performance from sophomore Jordyn Kleman to complete the sweep.

The Warriors scored single runs in the first and fifth inning and two runs in the sixth. Kleman and the rest of the Warriors held the ’Cats hitless to take home the 4-0 victory.

“Winona challenged us,” said Shumaker. “So going into Mary we just needed to overcome the little things and keep working on our hitting so we could get some wings against Mary.”

The Wildcats didn’t get discouraged from the losses when they turned around to face the University of Mary Marauders.

“We knew Mary wasn’t going to give up without a fight, so our defense was going to have to be ready for anything,” said Shumaker. “Our pitchers were going to need to throw to their spots and try to keep them off the bases.”

The Wildcats started off strong both offensively and defensively as junior relief pitcher Alyx Hagen held Mary to just one run in four innings of relief as the ’Cats held off the Marauders for a 6-5 victory.

Senior Katelyn Wobken led off the game with a double and scored on an RBI groundout from Hagen.

WSC then scored three in the second with a two-run double coming off the bat of junior Emily Chandler, followed by an RBI single by Wobken for the third run.

In the third, junior Abbie Hix singled and scored on a groundout from senior Jordyn Breitbarth. Freshman Annie Grammer reached on a Marauder error and scored on a fielder’s choice from junior Baylee Rial for the Wildcats’ sixth run.

“The first win was big for the ’Cats,” said Shumaker. “I think our bats came alive, we kept it simple, and didn’t try to do too much, which just flowed over into the rest of the weekend. And when were in a jam on defense our pitching and our defense got us out of it.”

The second game saw the ’Cats build a 12-1 lead, then hold off a late Marauder rally to hang on for a 12-10 victory.

The Wildcats scored four runs in the first, one in the second, four in the third and three in the top of the fifth to hold a 12-1 lead. But Mary kept the game alive with four runs in the bottom of the fifth to make the score 12-5, then scored an additional four runs in the sixth to trim the advantage to 12-9.

Mary then scored one in the bottom of the seventh and had the tying run on first base before WSC finally got a popup to second to end the game and the Marauder rally.

Shumaker had a two-run double to highlight Wayne State’s four run first inning. Grammer connected for a solo homer in the second, and her two-run single was the key hit in a four-run third inning with RBI singles from Wobken and Breitbarth.

“Our goal was to score first and we accomplished that goal in both games,” said Shumaker. “We’re the kind of team who fuels off of the energy during the game. When one person got a hit, the next person would do their job and we were just able to put some hits together. We also just remained confident. We’re a good team so the two wins against Mary just carried over into our games against Minot.”

The ’Cats then turned around to face Minot State in what turned out to be two very high scoring contests.

“Minot was another team we couldn’t take lightly,” said Shumaker. “They also weren’t going to go down without a fight. I think being at their home field was something we had to overcome because no one likes to lose at home.”

WSC rallied from an 11-0 deficit and used a two-out, two-run homer from Chandler in the top of the seventh inning to cap a 13-11 comeback win over Minot State in the opening contest of the doubleheader.

Minot State produced 11 runs on 11 hits in the second inning to grab the early 11-0 lead. WSC got on the board in the third inning with an RBI single from Chandler to score Wobken.

The ’Cats scored four runs in the fourth to cut the Beaver lead to 11-5. Chandler had a two-run single while Breitbarth added an RBI single for key hits in the inning.

WSC chalked up six runs in the top of the sixth inning to even the score at 11-11. Breitbarth started the inning with a solo home run. Freshman Ashley Hernandez had a two-run single to go with RBI singles from Hix and Chandler.

In the seventh inning, junior Morgan Vasa reached on a fielder’s choice and with two outs, Chandler blasted a home run in right center field to complete the incredible 13-11 comeback victory.

The second game of the day saw Minot State use four-run innings in the first and third to build an 8-2 lead, then hold off another Wildcat seventh inning rally to take the 11-10 victory.

WSC scored one in the top of the first on an RBI single from Shumaker that brought home Chandler, who reached on a double.

After MISU scored four runs in the bottom of the first, WSC got one run back in the third on back-to-back doubles from Shumaker and Hix.

Another four-run inning in the third gave Minot State an 8-2 lead. WSC scored one in the top of the fourth on an RBI double from Chandler and came up with two runs in the top of the fifth on sacrifice flies from Hernandez and Breitbarth that scored Shumaker (who reached on a walk) and Hix (who doubled) that cut the Minot State lead to 8-5.

Minot State answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to push the lead back to 10-5.

But the ’Cats didn’t stop there, scoring five runs in the seventh to tie the contest at 10-10. Hix reached on an error and scored on an RBI double from Grammer to trim the Minot State cushion to 10-6. Wobken belted a ground-rule double to score Grammer and Breitbarth, cutting the Beaver lead to 10-8.

WSC then loaded the bases following a pinch hit by Rial and a walk to Chandler. Back-to-back fielder’s choices by Hagen and Shumaker tied the game at 10-10. Hix reached on a fielder’s choice to load the bases again, but Hernandez grounded out to end the seventh inning rally with the score tied at 10-10.

Minot State then used a pair of walks followed by an RBI double in the bottom of the seventh to win 11-10.

“Playing Minot showed us that we can come back from anything,” said Shumaker. “Heading into this week we just need to keep that confidence and not go back down. Like I said, we’re a good team, we just need to stay up the rest of the season. We’re playing well right now, so the ’Cats just need to keep working on the little things and keep the bats hot.”

The Wildcats will be back in action this afternoon, hosting Sioux Falls in a 3 p.m. doubleheader.

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Softball team has a weekend of wins and losses