Getting better with time

Vikings double run total in final innings of YME sweep

Photo by Jake McNeill Minneota/Canby pitcher Madison Hennen throws from the circle during the third inning of a softball game against Yellow Medicine East in Minneota on Thursday.

MINNEOTA — Quality late-game at-bats helped the Minneota/Canby softball team win in decisive fashion in its home doubleheader against the Yellow Medicine East Sting on Thursday. The Vikings more than doubled their run total in the final inning of both of their games, claiming victories by a score of 22-2 in seven innings and 12-2 in five innings.

“We have great hitting. It takes a while for us to get going, it takes a while for us to adapt to the speed, but once we get going we’re pretty good,” Minneota head coach Heidi Louwagie said. “We have speed at every position so it’s nice to let them run. We have great hitting, Kiersyn [Hulzebos] does a great job behind the plate and they’re just a fun team.”

The Vikings loaded the bases with one out in the first inning of game 1 with a leadoff single from Kiersyn Hulzebos and walks from Izabelle Hulzebos and Dakota Pesch.

Abbie Winter struck out the next batter to put two away and then struck out another to nearly end the inning; yet, the third strike was dropped and all Minneota/Canby runners advanced to score the game’s first run before YME could react and throw Joelle Otto out at first. Kenadi Arndt then singled in another run to give the Vikings a 2-0 lead after the top of the first.

In the second inning, Minneota/Canby broke the game open by capitalizing on a series of YME miscues. Brooke DeSmet reached on an error to start the inning and consecutive singles by Faith Myhre and Izabelle Hulzebos drove her home.

A groundout gave the Sting the second out of the inning before Madison Hennen came up to bat. She hit a fly ball to shallow left-center field. The ball was catchable but the wind caused the YME players to misjudge it as it found the grass. Myhre scored on the play and Hennen advanced to second on the throw as the inning continued.

Otto followed up Hennen’s hit with a two-run single, giving the Vikings a 6-0 advantage. Arndt also reached on an error to put two runners on but the Sting ended the inning before Minneota could capitalize any further.

Hennen put together another quality start in the circle for Minneota/Canby. After pitching a four-inning perfect game against Ortonville in the Vikings’ season opener, Hennen went the full seven innings on Thursday. She struck out 11 batters in the game while limiting the Sting to two unearned runs on six hits and a walk.

“My catcher [Kiersyn Hulzebos] had some really good calls, just really mixing up our changeup and fastball and trying to get them off-speed a little bit, mixing inside and outside pitches,” Hennen said of her success in the circle. “We knew mistakes were going to be made today [due to the high wind speed] but how we were going to respond from that was going to be the real challenge for the day.”

At the plate, Hennen’s four hits with two doubles tied Izabelle Hulzebos for a game-high. Hulzebos also drove in eight RBIs while Hennen finished with another five. Otto, DeSmet and Kiersyn Hulzebos each also contributed three hits in the win.

“[Hennen and Hulzebos] are a pretty cool pair,” Louwagie said. “They take a lot of extra time together and communicate so well. They trust each other so they’re willing to take some chances and try some pitches and that paid off well for us.”

After falling shy of the mercy-rule win, the Vikings showed no mercy in the top of the seventh. Izabelle Hulzebos and Hennen each hit a two-run double to make the score 15-2 YME and Otto followed up with a triple to make the score 16-2.

The Rally continued with Arndt and DeSmet each hitting an RBI single to make it 18-2 when YME got the first out of the inning. 

Minneota/Canby turned over the order when Hulzebos had her second RBI double of the frame, driving in three runs this time, and an Otto RBI single made the score 22-2 when the inning finally ended.

The Sting got a pair of singles in the bottom of the frame but couldn’t muster any further runs in the loss.

Bayli Sneller and Riley Haar led the Sting offensively in the first game, finishing with a double and a single each.

“[We want to] continue to put the ball in play. That’s something that we’ve really focused on from the beginning of the season, making sure we’re making the defense make plays,” YME head coach Jen Sneller said. “I think the girls did that today. A bunch of them are putting the ball in play, making Minneota make plays on us and that’s exactly what we asked them to do.”


The Sting scored its first run of the game in the bottom of the inning when Riley Haar singled and advanced to third when Everra Leenerts reached on an error. Ella Cherveny then drove her home on a fielder’s choice but the Vikings still escaped the inning with a 6-1 lead. 

“We’re a pretty young squad this season so we’re going to give them a little time to grow and learn from their mistakes,” coach Sneller said. “Obviously it’s frustrating to see both the mental and physical errors that we had the first couple of innings but after that, they kind of settled into the zone and got those jitters out of the way. I think they did fine defensively.”

Minneota/Canby brought the run rule into play in the top of the fifth. With one out, DeSmet and Kiersyn Hulzebos hit consecutive singles and a Myhre walk loaded the bases for Izabelle Hulzebos. Izabelle crushed a single to center field to score DeSmet and Kiersyn. A Pesch ground out pushed across another run and a Hennen double to center made the score 11-1. 

In the bottom of the inning, YME spoiled the Vikings’ chance at a mercy rule win. Brianna Nelson hit a leadoff single and, advanced to second and a throw. A strikeout and a groundout put Nelson on third base with two outs and Alana Almich’s hard-hit grounder turned into an error, allowing Nelson to score and force the game to continue. The Sting also shut down the Vikings in the top of the sixth to force the game to go the full seven innings.

Haar hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the sixth and advanced to third on a groundout. Yet, Hennen buckled down with a strikeout and a pair of groundouts to get out of the inning unscathed.

Winter started at pitcher for YME. She struck out five batters while allowing 19 hits for 15 earned runs.

Game 2

M/C 12, YME 2

While the Vikings got their runs early in the first game, it was a late rally that sealed the victory in the second. Minneota/Canby exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to put the finishing touches on a 12-2 victory.

Otto led off the bottom of the fifth inning by reaching base on an error. Emily Verhelst came in as a courtesy runner and scored when Dakota Pesch lined a double to center field.

Pesch stole her way to third and scored on a Courtney Antony single. Another single from Arndt put runners on the corners and, with one out, Rachel Fairchild doubled to Center field to clear the bases for a 9-2 Minneota/Canby lead.

A single from Grace Hennen put the clinching run at the plate and a pair of RBI singles from Kiersyn Hulzebos and Madison Hennen put Hulzebos on third. She stole home shortly thereafter to trigger the run rule with a 12-2 win.

Otto took to the circle for Minneota/Canby in game 2, pitching five innings while allowing one earned run. She limited the Sting to five hits and two walks while striking out four batters.

Almich came up big for the Sting in the second inning, crushing the fourth pitch she saw to center field for a 1-0 YME lead. 

Unfortunately for the Sting, Fairchild and Kiersyn Hulzebos each hit RBI singles in the bottom of the frame and Fairchild stole home shortly thereafter to give the Vikings a 3-1 lead. They carried that lead for the rest of the game.

In the third inning, Antony became the second Viking this year to hit a home run after Pesch hit one in the Vikings’ season opener against Ortonville. After Otto singled to get on base, Antony crushed a ball to deep center field. The ball didn’t leave the park but Antony showed off the wheels, sprinting around the basepaths to beat the throw for a 5-1 Minneota lead.

Antony had a team-high three hits in the second game while Otto and Kiersyn Hulzebos each had another two.

Bayli Sneller took the mound for 4 1/3 innings for YME, allowing seven earned runs on 12 hits and a walk. She struck out six batters.

Ella Cherveny singled with two outs in the top of the fifth inning and, after advancing on a Bailey Mortenson walk, scored when Nelson reached base on an error. Still, the Sting weren’t able to capitalize on the miscure and finished the inning still trailing 5-2.

Minneota/Canby improves to 3-0 with the win while YME falls to 0-4. The Vikings will look to keep rolling when they take on Tracy-Milroy-Balaton in Tracy on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.

YME will try to bounce back into form when they host Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg in Granite Falls on Tuesday at 4:30 p.m.


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