NEW ULM - New Ulm 16-U Blue battled through two difficult games just to reach the Windmill Classic championship game. It faced another big challenge, where the West Metro Minnesota Chaos awaited. The Chaos built a 5-0 lead in the first four and a half innings. The New Ulm bats came to life in the bottom of the fifth and produced three runs, but the Chaos held on for a 5-3 victory.
New Ulm strggled to even get a hit early in the game. Kelsey Anderson broke up a no hitter in the fourth inning with a single, New Ulm only hit of the inning.
On the mound for New Ulm, Tori Botten made it through one inning without giving up a hit, but the second inning proved to be a little more difficult.
Botten gave up two singles to start the inning. An error by the shortstop loaded the bases with only one out, but Botten was able to leave them full and escape without giving up a run.
A leadoff homerun in the third put the Chaos on the board. Two singles followed and New Ulm looked to be in trouble again. The Chaos hit back to back fly balls to center fielder Emily Grobb, the first advancing the baserunners. The Chaos tried to score off of the second out, but a rocket of a throw by Grobb was right on target to catcher Nikki Dietrich who applied the tag to end the inning.
The Chaos manufactured a run in the fourth off a single, two stolen bases, and a passed ball to give them a 2-0 lead going into the fifth inning.
The fifth inning is where the game got a lot more offensive. Botten gave up three runs on three hits with two costly errors by her defence.
New Ulm responded well in the bottom of the inning. It recorded three straight singles to begin the inning, the third from Dietrich to drive in Botten.
"We scored a lot of runs," New Ulm Manager Logan Ahlness said. "We had some pretty clutch hits. I'm really impressed with the girls throughout the line-up, top to bottom."
With two outs and one on, Rachel Kehren came up huge. She crushed a two run homerun well over the left center fence to put New Ulm right back in the game.
"It was awesome to see Rachel get that homerun," Ahlness said. "It kind of gave us a kick in the butt, and put a little confidence in them to let them know we can battle with this team."
With time working against them, the rally came a little too late in the game for the New Ulm team. The Chaos pitcher responded and stepped up by not allowing another hit against her final four batters she faced. Time worked against New Ulm as the game was called after six innings due to time restrictions.
"Unfortunately, we choose to rally later in the game, which is something we've got to work on," Ahlness said.
The Minnesota Chaos took home first with a 5-3 victory.
After going 2-0 in pool play, New Ulm Blue began the tournement with an 8-4 victory over Maple River. Hunter Ahlness was the winning pitcher with five strikeouts. Anderson went 2 for 2 with a walk, and Dietrich was 2 for 3. Aubrie Smith, Botten, and Nelsen each had two RBIs.
New Ulm Blue faced New Ulm Red in the semifinals. Blue won the low scoring affair 3-1. Botten's pitching was big, as she recorded eight strikeouts. Sidney Forstner led the team in batting, going 2 for 2 with an RBI. Botten and Hunter Ahlness were each 2 for 3 in the game.