MANKATO — The weather may have been on the cool side at Caswell Park Saturday afternoon, but the Mankato West softball team remained hot. The Scarlets, who brought a 2-0 record into their own eight-team, round-robin tournament, won all three of their games to help support their No. 1 ranking in Class AAA.
“I thought we played pretty well,” West second baseman Lani Schoper said after her team’s final game. “There’s still plenty of things we can do better. We’ll just keep working hard and try to improve in those areas.”
The Scarlets opened the tournament with a 5-2 win over Chaska, and followed with a 4-0 shutout of St. Peter. In the final round, West blanked Class AA’s No. 1-rated Maple Lake 3-0. The Irish pitched junior left-hander Taylor Hess who has signed to play college softball at the University of Kentucky.
“That was a good win for us, (Hess) is a good pitcher,” West coach Don Krusemark said. “We left some other runners in scoring position that we would have liked to get home, but, overall, it was a good tournament.”
Hess was outdueled by the pitching combo of right-hander Abbi Stierlen and Lauryn Douglas. Stierlen worked the first five innings, giving up three hits and striking out five. She did not walk a batter.
“The wind was blowing pretty good at times but that really didn’t affect my pitching,” Stierlen said. “My curve was working well this weekend, especially in this last game.”
Stierlen got into some serious trouble in the second when Maple Lake singled and doubled to put runners on second and third to lead off the inning. The right-hander came back to strike out the side and avoid any damage.
Douglas pitched the final two frames, allowing just one hit. She gave up a leadoff double in the sixth but left the runner stranded on third when she fanned the final two batters of the inning. She fanned two more batters while pitching a perfect seventh to end the game.
“They’re different style pitchers,” Krusemark said. “They complement each other well.”
Stierlen ended up with wins against St. Peter and Maple Lake. Douglas was the winner against Chaska.
In the Chaska game, Breck Carlson and Douglas had three hits apiece. Carly Nelson added two hits and two RBIs. Schoper and Bri Stoltzman also had two hits each.
Against St. Peter, Schoper led the way with two hits and two RBIs. Stoltzman added two hits and drove in a run.
In the finale against Maple Lake, Brooklyn Geerdes sliced an opposite-field, two-run single to right to lead the offense. Schoper ended up with an RBI single.
St. Peter finished 0-3 for the tournament, losing to Maple Lake 10-0 and to Chaska 5-3.
New Ulm was 2-1. The Eagles defeated Edina 6-4 and Apple Valley 16-0 before dropping a 9-8 decision to Concordia Academy.