NEW ULM - It took a while, but Minnesota Valley Lutheran picked up its first wins of the season by the scores of 5-1 and 8-4 against Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart in a Tomahawk Conference softball doubleheader.
The Mustangs (1-6, 1-5 Tomahawk) missed a chance to score early in the first when a runner failed to tag on a fly ball to center field with one out. The runner was left stranded on third base.
"We made some mental mistakes on the bases that allowed them to stay in the game," BLHS head coach Brandon Neseth said. "That is something we need to work on."
The Chargers (2-10, 2-7) jumped out to an early one-run lead in the bottom of the first. Senior Charlotte Pfingsten led off with a single and a stolen base to get in scoring position right away, and Karissa Schlottman followed with an RBI single.
The next few innings were a pitching duel between Schlottman for MVL and Katie Kalenberg for BLHS.
Schlottman struck out four batters in her seven innings of work. She allowed only one run on six hits to pick up the win.
"I was feeling really good on the mound today," Schlottman said. "My dropball was working, so I used that to my advantage."
Kalenberg allowed five runs on seven hits and seven strikeouts in the loss.
"Katie threw strikes today and anytime she does that we are going to have a chance to win," Neseth said.
BLHS tied the game in the fourth on an RBI single by Courtney Richards, scoring Michaela Maiers. But the Mustangs were not able to muster any more offense than that.
Needing a run, junior Allison Lease led off the bottom of the sixth inning with a double. The Chargers loaded the bases with no outs, but two ground balls back to the pitcher left them with the bases loaded and two outs.
Schlottman came up and delivered a fly ball that the center fielder could not handle to score the two go-ahead runs.
"I knew it was time to step up and do something," Schlottman said. "I was hoping to get one right down the middle and it came."
Jordan Marotz added a two-RBI double after that to add a couple of insurance runs.
The MVL defense came out and retired three-straight batters to secure its first win.
"This is a big step for us," Schlottman said. "Everyone is just so happy to have gotten this win."
Kayla Perry went 2-for-3 at the plate to lead the Chargers offensively. Kalenberg was 2-for-3 to lead BLHS.
MVL rallied late in the second game to pick up its second win. Schlottman hit a two-RBI double in the fifth inning to tie the game at 4-4 and the Chargers scored four runs in the top of the seventh to secure the victory.
Schlottman was the winning pitcher again for MVL. She pitched all seven innings and gave up two earned runs on three strikeouts.
Kalenberg received her second loss of the day. She struck out six batters in her seven innings of work.
Pfingsten was 3-for-4 to lead the MVL offense in Game 2. Nicole Rieger was 2-for-4 with an RBI.
Kalenberg and Erika Zanoth were both 2-for-4 to lead BLHS.
MVL will host Nicollet on Friday, while BLHS travels to take on Springfield on Monday.