By Denny Weller
Special to The Free Press
NORTH MANKATO — Macy Anderson and Torey Richards ripped three hits apiece Saturday morning at Caswell Park as the Mankato East softball team used two big innings to defeat Maple River 11-5 in the championship game of the East tournament.
The Cougars (5-0) ended up with 13 hits off losing pitcher Makayla Rahn, who struck out two and didn't walk a batter through five innings. Eighth-grader Morgan Keim-Wolfe chipped in two hits for the winners, who had eight different players collect hits.
“We’ve had a lot of good at-bats and struck out very little so far this season,” East coach Joe Madson said. “Our pitching has been solid as well but defensively we've got some work to do. I think we can be a very good team defensively, but I think being inside so much has put a bit of a squelch on that.”
East senior right-hander Megan Ulrich gave up only a double to Rahn through three innings before the Cougars parlayed seven hits, two errors and three sacrifices into a six-spot in the bottom of the third. Richards and Keim-Wolfe sliced singles into left field to get things rolling before Jordan Kuster and Anderson drove in runs with singles.
Junior center fielder Shelby Beckman then belted a double to deep center field to continue the onslaught. Sophomore left fielder Paige Lingbeck followed with an RBI single up the middle, and Richards capped things with her second hit of the inning, a bouncer through the hole on the right side.
“It feels good to get out and start playing some games, and we had a really great weekend,” Anderson said. “We haven’t been outside so our communication in the infield and outfield is still a little rocky. We need to get some of those akward situations that come up worked out. The lack of space inside and varying schedule makes it tough.”
Maple River (4-1) tallied two runs in the top of the fourth when McKarah Schaefer reached on an infield single, Kristen Huck drew a base on balls and Rahn delivered a two-run single. Schaefer and Rahn laced three hits apiece for the Eagles, who totaled nine for the contest.
“East was really connecting, and we had a few miscues to help them out,” Maple River coach Laura Olson said. “I was pleased with the way we never gave up. A lot of times when your behind by that much you give up offensively, but we came back at them, and that’s a good sign.
“We’ve been pretty good at the things you can work on inside, but the things we needed to be outside for we’re learning, kind of baptism under fire. Overall, you’d like to be in midseason shape right now, but we’re still having a few hiccups."
East erupted for five runs in the fifth frame as Keim-Wolfe, Richards and senior second baseman Carolyn Osdoba all drove in runs.
Maple River plays Monday at Waseca, and the Cougars host Rochester John Marshall Tuesday in a 4 p.m. doubleheader.