Saints win both ends of doubleheader against Luverne, receive "wake-up call" in 5-0 loss against Lake Crystal

Sean Ellertson
St. James Plaindealer

After eight consecutive victories to start the year, the St. James Area softball team was dealt its first loss of the season behind a masterful pitching performance by Jacie Schultz on Tuesday night. 

Schultz dominated the Saints' opening line from the opening pitch, tossing seven shutout innings while striking out 14 in the 5-0 win.

Schultz's first 11 outs were recorded by way of the strikeout. The first batter to put a ball in play on the lefty flamethrower was Kelsey Grunewald who grounded out to end the home half of the fourth.

"Outside of throwing hard, she really kept our batters chasing the ball," said head coach Sam Baumgartner. "We were slow to make adjustments. Usually the second time around the order, we really adjust well. That didn't happen for us today. We were still behind on her and we still not going with the pitch. And that was something we talked about early.

"She is one of the best pitchers in the area. She is by far the best or fastest pitcher we've seen so far this year. But at the same time, we've told the girls that tougher competition is coming. If they recognize this as a wake-up call, that's a good sign." 

Schultz's offense netted her two runs in the opening frame, as three walks from Addie Bowers and an error by the Saints' defense assisted in plating the two early runs.

"I thought Addie struggled a lot in the first four innings of the game," said Baumgartner. "She wasn't hitting her spots like she usually was. She usually hits her spots 80-90 percent of the time and today it was much less than that. [It's] a little atypical of her to put runners on base and walk kids."

Bowers managed to get a flyout to right fielder Eva Romsdahl to leave the bases loaded in the top of the first.

In the second, Bowers worked around another error by her defense and a walk to keep the game at 2-0.

Bowers worked a 1-2-3 inning in the third inning, while Schultz stayed sharp, striking out three more batters around a Chloe Mickelson walk.

In the fourth, two singles, a walk, and error led to another Lake Crystal run, pushing the lead to 3-0.

With the bases loaded and two outs, Liv Harazin provided the game's biggest hit, with an RBI single to right field to score two Knights, and extend the lead to 5-0.

Schultz's no-hit bid ended in the bottom of the fifth on a Taylor Sodeman single to right to lead off the inning. The next three Saints were retired in short order to stunt any momentum.

Bowers pitched through the sixth before giving way to Sydney Engelking in the seventh. Engelking retired the Knights in order in the top half of the frame. 

"The girls said that this was a wake-up call," said Baumgartner. "I wanted to bring that out and say why weren't we ready then, because it doesn't matter who we're playing, we have to be ready for whoever it is. I do think now they have a clearer picture on what it's going to take and they'll be prepared [that] from the first pitch, it's on."

We were doing that earlier in the year, but I think as we've played some games and some games have been easier than others, you can tend to lose an edge, and I think that caught up to us today."

Last Thursday, the Saints traveled to Luverne for a doubleheader against the Cardinals, and the Saints came out on the winning end of both games, 10-4, and 14-3.

St. James jumped ahead in the first and added two more in the second. The Saints tallied a run in the third and fourth innings as well. 

In the sixth, the Saints added three more runs on the strength of an RBI groundout by Torri Mohwinkel, and singles by Addie Bowers and Taylor Sodeman.

Mohwinkel and Maddie Brey each added RBI singles in the seventh.

Taking a shutout into the bottom of the seventh, Bowers was tagged with a grand slam off the bat of Carly Olson.

In game two, Bowers surrendered a run in the first inning, but Brey responded with a three-run shot, scoring Bowers and Mohwinkel.

Sam Tetzloff added a solo home run in the bottom of the second.  A single by Bowers scored two more, and a groundout from Brey tacked on the fourth run of the inning, pushing the Saints lead to 7-1. An error by Luverne scored Kelsey Grunewald, putting the Saints up seven after just two innings.

The Saints added two more runs in the third inning, while Luverne tallied a pair in the fourth on an error by Grunewald.

In the bottom half, McKenna Steinbrink added to the home run party, hitting a solo homer to center.

Following singles by Jaelyn Haler and Mickelson, Mohwinkel stayed hot on the afternoon, scoring Haler with a single of her own.

Bowers ripped a single, scoring Mickelson and Mohwinkel.

Between the two games, Bowers went 5/9 with six RBI, while Brey went 5/9 with four RBI, including the home run. Mohwinkel went 4/8 with three RBIs.

The Saints travel to Pipestone for a doubleheader on Tuesday against their section and conference rival.