By Jim Rueda
The Free Press
Cleveland softball coach Dan Fredrickson wasn't sure what to expect when his team stepped outdoors for the first time on Tuesday, but it's safe to assume the Clippers exceeded his expectations.
"I was pretty sure our infield would be OK," he said. "But other than that, it was all new territory.
"I think it helped that we took the lead early. Our confidence just grew from there."
Cleveland was supposed to have a home game against Lake Crystal Wellcome Memorial on Tuesday but an unplayable field forced a change of venue to Lake Crystal. The Clippers did just fine, parlaying seven hits and a solid pitching effort from Cassidy Kopet into an 8-3 Valley Conference victory.
Cleveland went to work early, scoring four runs in the second inning and three more in the third. A two-run triple by Megan Gjemse, along with a pair of RBI singles from Megan Hobson, fueled the rallies.
"We just wanted to come out and have fun and be competitive today," Hobson said. "Of course we wanted to win, but I think it was important to us just to play well."
Fredrickson agreed: "We dropped some balls in that first inning, but we settled down after that. When we huddled up between innings, you could just feel their confidence growing."
Kopet stymied the LCWM lineup for five innings. The Knights finally got the offense going in the sixth, capitalizing on an infield error and base hits by Sami Sorenson, Maddie LeMay, Kenzie Tibbetts and Megan Schroeder to score three times.
Kopet came back to retire the side in order in the seventh to end the game. Like the Clippers, LCWM coach Kari Schwarz was just glad her team had a chance to play a game.
"We've been practicing outside, but we needed to play an actual game," Schwarz said. "We were anxious at the plate today and were a little out in front of (Kopet's) pitches. We finally put something together in the sixth."
Another bright spot for LCWM was the relief effort of pitcher Sorenson, who closed out the game with three shutout innings. She walked two batters, did not allow a hit and struck out four.
Hobson and Gjemse led Cleveland with two hits apiece. LeMay had two hits for LCWM.
The Knights are scheduled to host Nicollet on Thursday. Cleveland, anticipating bad weather, has already canceled it's remaining games for the week.
"I'm not sure what's going to happen," Fredrickson said. "It's been an unusual spring."