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RTR routs West Lutheran in third-place game

Photo by Ari Selvey/The Journal, New Ulm: Russell-Tyler-Ruthton's Daryssa Cruz crosses home plate after hitting a home run in the second inning of the Class A third-place game against West Lutheran at Caswell Park in North Mankato on Friday

NORTH MANKATO — The Russell-Tyler-Ruthton softball team capped off a historic season with a bang on Friday night. The Knights knocked off West Lutheran in the Class A third-place game by a final score of 12-1 to leave their first-ever state tournament with the bronze.

Kya Alderson showed off her ability to do anything and everything in her final game as a Knight. The senior pitcher and Minnesota West commit went 4 of 4 at the plate with a double and four RBIs. In the circle, she held West Lutheran to one earned run on four hits and a walk over the full five innings. She struck out 12 of the batters she faced.

Laken Baartman and Alderson singled consecutively to start the first inning but West Lutheran retired each of the next three batters to escape the jam and got out both of the first two batters of the second inning. Yet, RTR rallied from there.

Brezlyn Buchert walked and Briella Buchert singled to put two runners on. Baartman then hit an RBI double to put RTR on the board and Alderson followed up with a two-run single. Madi Burns kept the ball rolling with another RBI double and Daryssa Cruz capped off the rally with a two-run homer to give the Knights a 6-0 lead.

Burns doubled twice in the game for RTR while Cruz and Baartman each added a pair of RTR’s 10 hits. For West Lutheran, Eleanor Rolf and Kailey Oppitz each accounted for two of their teams’ four hits.

The Warriors got out of the inning with a strikeout but the Knights continued to do everything right at the plate. Walks to Brezlyn Buchert and Baartman put two runners on with two outs in the third inning and Alderson took advantage with a two-run double.

Eleanor Rolf pitched all five innings for West Lutheran. She allowed eight earned runs on 10 hits and six walks during her time on the mound, also striking out eight batters.

West Lutheran got on the board in the bottom of the third when Rolf singled, stole second and scored on a Kailey Oppitz single. That would be the last run the Warriors tallied on the day.

In need of three runs to put the game away in the fifth inning, the Knights did their fans one better. Olivia Lange and Lily Klumper walked to start the inning and Briella Buchert scored Lange on a ground out. Baartman then drove Klumper in after reaching on an error.

With one out, Alderson singled to put runners on the corners and Madi Burns followed up with a clutch two-run double to put the run rule into play.

An offensive interference call and a ground out ended the Knights’ fifth-inning rally but Alderson struck out three of the four batters she faced in the bottom of the fifth to seal the third-place finish.

RTR played consistent clean softball all day long, finishing the game without an error. West Lutheran, meanwhile finished with three on the day.

RTR was knocked down to the elimination bracket after it fell on the wrong side of a 4-2 battle against top-seeded New Ulm Cathedral in the state semifinals.

On the opposite side of the bracket, West Lutheran defeated No. 3 Bloomington Prairie in the quarters but fell 8-2 to also unseeded Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley in the semifinals.

Cathedral defeated CGB 10-4 in the state championship to claim their eighth state title.

RTR finishes its season with a record of 24-5. The Knights graduate five seniors in Alderson, Burns, Gabi Borresen, Briella Buchert and Lily Klumper. Still, with eight of the 17 players on their roster this year being freshmen and another four being sophomores, the Knights will still have plenty of talent to work with next year.

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