NORTH MANKATO - Sleepy Eye St. Mary's took advantage of mistakes, got enough pitching, defense, timely hitting and aggressive base running to remain alive in the Section 2A Softball Tournament at Caswell Park.
The Knights defeated Springfield, 5-1 and Martin County West (MCW) 6-5 in loser bracket games. They'll play at 5 p.m. against New Ulm Cathedral at Caswell Park. The winner of that game will play at 7 p.m. against Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity.
The Knights took advantage of five MCW errors, three in the first inning. They were aided by a couple walks and clutch hits to jump to a 5-1 lead in the top of the second inning.
Emily Schumacher led off the game reaching base on an infield error, moved to second on another infield error on a ball hit by Larissa Helget, and scored on another infield error. Larissa Helget scored on one of the errors.
A diving catch in centerfield prevented Jenna Hose from reaching base in the second inning. With two out, Schumacher walked before Larissa Helget, Bethany Berkner, Karissa Fleck and Maddy Helget all singled, putting the Knights up 5-1.
Shawna Dressen's solo homer in the second brought MCW within 5-2.
The Knights left two runners on base in the third and stranded 10 runners in the game.
St. Mary's went up 6-3 in the fifth when Larissa Helget singled, took second on a wild pitch, third on Berkner's infield hit and scored on a fielder's choice.
Berkner, Larissa and Maddy Helget each had two hits for the Knights.
"It feels nice to win, but it was a little too dramatic," winning pitcher Maddy Helget said.
"It was good to be aggressive on the bases early," St. Mary's Coach Wendy Owens said. "We've had many close games with MCW."
"We spotted them too many runs and then battled back, which is something we've had to do all season," said MCW Coach Darrell Ziegler. "We kept battling. Give credit to St. Mary's. They played good defense."
The Knights took advantage of several early fly balls affected by the wind in their win over Springfield. Karissa Fleck's fly-out drove in the first run in the first inning. Larissa Helget hit a fly into the wind and wound up at second base.
In the Knights' third, Larissa Helget singled, Berkner walked, Helget scored on a passed ball and Berkner scored on an infield error.
Jenny Thoreson doubled in the sixth and scored on Jordan Salonek's single, making the score 5-1.
"Maddy (Helget) kept their hitters off balance," said Coach Owens. "Springfield struggled to start the game. Molly Schwartz had a nice catch."
"It was nice to rely on the defense. It's a good feeling having them behind me," Maddy Helget said.
"We misplayed a couple fly balls that should've been outs," Springfield Coach Paul Dunn said. "St. Mary's executed better than we did."
Springfield ended its season at 10-9.