Saints softball racks up 35 runs in doubleheader sweep of Redwood Valley, beats Nicollet and Windom to move to 6-0

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

On Friday afternoon at Dennis Johnson Field, the St. James Area softball team put on an offensive clinic, outscoring Redwood Valley 35-1 in doubleheader play on Friday.

In the first leg, St. James used a 13-run second inning to bury the Cardinals early.

After Kelsey Grunewald scored on an error to open the scoring, Jaelyn Haler doubled home Taylor Sodeman and Sam Tetzloff. A bases-loaded single by Addie Bowers knocked home two more Saints, which was immediately followed with a Maddie Brey single to plate another run, pushing the lead to 6-0.

A passed ball and single by Sodeman scored two more for the Saints. Another passed ball and a groundout by Tetzloff had the Saints up 10-0.

Torri Mohwinkel added a double to score McKenna Steinbrink and Haler. Chloe Mickelson followed up with a double of her own to score Mohwinkel before a groundout by Bowers finally closed the inning.

After Bowers mowed down the Cardinals in the top of the third, the Saints put the finishing touches on the slaughter rule, as Brey reached on an error and Grunewald clubbed a home run, capping the 15-run effort.

"She's so good defensively, and I think that she's understanding that she can be just as good offensively, too," said head coach Sam Baumgartner of Grunewald. "She's one of those kids that just needed that confidence to build that success. She's waiting for her pitches and not swinging at bad ones."

Bowers pitched three no-hit innings in the win.

In game two, Sydney Engelking toed the rubber for the Saints, and allowed just one run and four hits, as the Saints offense pounded out 14 hits and 20 runs.

Acting as the away team in game two, the Saints scored four runs in the first on the strength of a Brey triple to score Mickelson, a passed ball to score Brey, and a Mackenzie Christensen single to score Sodeman and Grunewald.

In the bottom of the first, Engelking surrendered her one and only run on a double to center field.

In the top of the second, the Saints offense tallied four more runs, and tacked on five more in the third.

Each offense was held scoreless in the fourth, and a seven-run outburst from the Saints in the top of the fifth put the finishing touches on a huge day for the bats.

For as dominant as the Saints offense was, Engelking was just as solid, allowing the four hits and one run while striking out six, proving once again to be a reliable second starter behind Bowers.

"Sydney would be a starter on a lot of teams in our area for sure," said Baumgartner. "She would be our starter, too if it wasn't for Addie, because she is that good. What she does is she locates so well, that's why she's so successful. She is going to be a big piece for us because when you do get to sections sometimes you're playing two games a day or a back-to-back. She showed us again what she can bring on the mound and that's huge for us to know we have two quality starters that can go at any time."

The previous night, the Saints knocked off Nicollet 3-1, behind a one-hit, 11 strikeout performance from Bowers.

The Saints' offense netted Bowers an early lead, with Mickelson knocking in Torri Mohwinkel with an RBI single in the top of the first inning. 

The Saints added another run in the top of the fourth.

Christensen led the inning off with an infield single. Following a flyout and a strikeout, Mohwinkel doubled to center to plate Christensen with an important insurance run.

In the sixth, Christensen would add the Saints' third run on an RBI single by Mickelson. Mickelson finished the game 3/4 with a pair of RBIs.

After hitting just .148 as a sophomore in 2019, Mickelson is hitting .571 for the Saints in their first five games.

"I think the biggest thing is her confidence level," said Baumgartner. "I've always known this is the player she is. She has tremendous ability and is very athletic. She can play anywhere in the field for us. She just keeps battling. In the past, she would swing at bad pitches and get herself out. Now if it's close she fights it off and she's been stellar for us on offense."

In the bottom half, Bowers finally conceded her first run of the year after 17 scoreless innings to start the campaign.

A pair of walks and a fielder's choice scored the only run of the night for Nicollet.

In the seventh, a pair of groundouts and a strikeout by Bowers closed the books for the Nicollet offense.

On Tuesday in Windom, Bowers tossed a complete-game one-hit shutout, as the Saints took down the Eagles 11-0. 

The Saints' offense jumped into action in the third inning, with Bowers singling home Haler, and Brey knocking in two runs with an opposite-field double to score Mickelson and Bowers.

In the fourth, Taylor Sodeman scored on a passed ball to extend the St. James lead to 4-0.

In the bottom half, Bowers recorded two quick outs before a hit by pitch and a single put two runners on. Bowers, ever calm, recorded a punchout to retire the side.

In the fifth, following a Grunewald RBI single, Sodeman provided the punctuating blow, hitting a two-run shot to right, putting the Saints up 7-0. 

St. James added four more in the sixth on singles from Haler, Mohwinkel, and Bowers.

Bowers closed out her fourth shutout of the young season by punching out the side to finish the outing with 14.  

Grunewald and Bowers each finished with three singles and two RBI, while Brey and Sodeman both went 1/4 with a pair of RBI.