By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
ST PETER —
The bounces were truer and faster, the surface was sparkling green and the pitching mound left a little to be desired.
But the field was usable and that’s all the Gustavus Adolphus College softball team was looking for.
Due to unplayable conditions on their regular field, the Gusties moved to the artificial turf of Hollingsworth Field Thursday to play a Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference doubleheader against St. Olaf. After 14 innings, the Gusties had swept the Oles 3-2 and 7-0.
“We played here once before against La Crosse two years ago,” Gustavus coach Jeff Annis said between games. “The only difference this time around is we have some temporary fencing we borrowed from Richfield High School.”
New field or not, it was still collegiate softball and both teams adapted well to the conditions. In the opener, Gustavus scored first when Kate Rentschler stroked an opposite-field double down the left-field line for a second-inning RBI.
The Gusties made it 2-0 in the fifth when Carly Klass smacked another double to right-center. The St. Olaf center fielder initially appeared to have the ball measured, but a strong wind blowing from left field to right field sent the ball away from her for the run-scoring hit.
Gustavus right-hander Sarah Rozelle was in control through four innings before making her only serious mistake in the fifth. She got a ball up high and outside to St. Olaf’s Becca Walz and she lofted a towering, three-run homer over the right-field wall for a 3-2 Oles lead.
After a scoreless sixth, the Gusties rallied in the bottom of the seventh. Klass led off with a double to left center, pinch-hitter Jaden Fischer followed with a single through the left side and a stolen base put runners at second and third.
At that point, Sam Breneman stepped to the plate and smacked a one-hopper to the right side that glanced off the glove of the first baseman for the game-ending two-run single.
“I was looking for something inside that I could pull to right so I could advance the runners,” said Breneman, a senior from Martin County West High School. “I knew I hit it pretty well. I’m just glad it got through.”
Rentschler led the Gusties with two doubles in three trips. Rozelle scattered six hits, struck out seven and walked one while allowing two earned runs.
Game 2 was all Gustavus as Rentschler took the mound and pitched a three-hit shutout. She fanned two and walked one.
Breneman finished 2 for 3 with two RBIs. Klass was 2 for 3 and drove in one run.
The sweep improves Gustavus’ record to 5-8 overall and 2-0 in the MIAC. St. Olaf falls to 5-9 and 0-2.