Perfect way to start regional play

By Kristi Nixon

St. Ansgar catcher Abby Hemann dives to catch a foul pop to start off the Saints’ 12-0, four-inning win over West Hancock on Friday, July 1. EJ Photo/Kristi Nixon

ST. ANSGAR — The Saints’ Class 1A Region 4 opener couldn’t have been more perfect.

St. Ansgar’s Josie Juhl threw her second perfect game of the season and coach Lance Schutjer’s team ran wild on a two-win West Hancock team in a 12-0, four-inning victory over the Eagles on Friday, July 1.

Unofficially, the Saints accumulated eight stolen bases against the Eagles, three straight just taking the extra base on a walk starting in the second inning. Most of those led to runs and put an early end to the game.

“When there was a girl on three, the pitcher just waited, so we tried to take the best opportunity we could to get more girls in scoring position,” Josie Juhl, who also took two extra bases off of walks in the game. “We had better chances. We haven’t played them at all for a long time.

“I was just trying to keep going. I didn’t realize it was a perfect game, though.”

All of the walks and taking extra bases was on the fly since Schutjer said his team hadn’t seen nor played West Hancock this season.

“I always want to take advantage of little things like taking an extra base because I think base running is a big part of the game and if you work on it, it can win you games,” Schutjer said. “We told them to take advantage of getting extra bases if you can and the girls did that, and put the pressure on the defense to get us out. Sometimes that works, or it doesn’t; tonight we were able to score a couple runs after that.”

It was also the perfect ending as the Saints said goodbye to announcer Bill Carlson, who called it quits after 17 seasons. He said he could step in for an emergency, but Carlson officially called his final game. He was awarded American Legion tokens by the players afterward and in return, he bought the team ice cream sandwiches to celebrate.

Consistently, after wins he would play Lawrence Welk’s “Good Night” and following losses, Sister Sledge’s “We are Family.”

Carlson promised he’d come see the team in its next-round game, Wednesday, July 6 at Mason City Newman, the rubber match.

“We were able to split with them this year, which helps our confidence a little bit. Last year, 4-3, good game over there,” Schutjer said. “No matter what the score is, it’s going to be intense, competitive. Of course, we want to win, but it’s always a good game and we like the head-to-head competition.”

A more complete story will appear in the July 7 print edition of the Enterprise Journal.

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