Saints march on in regional play

By Kristi Nixon

ST. ANSGAR — St. Ansgar needed a little longer to dispatch Rockford than it did earlier in the week, but the Saints will play another day after a 12-1, five-inning victory over the Lady Warriors in the Class 1A Region 6 opener on Friday, June 30.

St. Ansgar third base Maci Mayer tags out Rockford’s Ashlynn Grady trying to advance second to third on a sacrifice fly in the first inning on Friday, June 30. The play ended the inning as the Saints won, 12-1, in five innings. EJ Photo/Kristi Nixon

Aspen Falk hit 3-for-3, only a home run shy of the cycle as her triple put an early ending to the game, scoring a pair on base with the Saints already leading 10-1 in the fifth.

“Even from Monday to today, they came out swinging and hitting the ball, came to play,” St. Ansgar coach Lance Schutjer said of Rockford. “I told my team, we have to do the same thing because in the post-season records mean nothing. What happened on Monday meant nothing, we have to come out and play softball.”

Josie Juhl struck out 10, but gave up a run in the first inning by giving up a one-out hit, walked a batter and a passed ball allowed a sacrifice fly RBI before Lia Halfman’s strike to Maci Mayer at third ended any further damage.

“I think like most pitchers at this time of the year, her arm is getting a little bit tired,” Schutjer said. “That’s normal, some kind of fatigue, but she always seems to find a way to find some energy. She might struggle early, but as the game progresses, she seems to always find something within herself to throw a little harder, hit the spots better. She always seems to get better as the game goes on.

“I’ve got to imagine most pitchers this time of year, they are getting tired.”

Juhl added, “The season is getting longer and my arm is getting more tired, but I have to work through the pain. Every game that I pitch, I don’t start at my greatest, but as the game goes along I get stronger and stronger.”

It marked the ninth straight win for the Saints over Rockford, both regular season and post-season. St. Ansgar holds a 17-12 historical advantage over the Lady Warriors in the Bound era.

Leading 2-1 into the second, the Saints batted around with five hits, a walk and an error to command a 7-1 advantage. Lead-off hitter Kinsey Anderson also was 3-for-3 and a walk, with all three hits infield singles and then used her speed to force Rockford to throw the ball around. She even forced the issue on her walk by making Rockford throw her out at second as the Saints’ runner on third came in to score.

The win advances St. Ansgar to play at Riceville (23-9), which had a bye, on Wednesday, July 5. Head coach Andrea Bauer was in attendance to scout the game on Friday night.

“I figured someone would be here,” Schutjer said. “But we’ve got to play our best game on Wednesday, because they are a great team. They do the little things well and we have to do the same thing. I think it will be a good game. We’re used to being close, play during the regular season. It will be a fun atmosphere for all of the kids. I tell the kids to take a look around and enjoy the atmosphere because not everybody gets to play and make sure they think everybody for supporting our team.”

J. Juhl added, “If we hit like we did tonight, we’ll be fine. We have to keep getting stronger and better, come to practice and be ready to go.”

Rockford 100 00 – 1 1 2

St Ansgar    162 12 – 12 9 0

Winning battery — Josie Juhl and Josie Jahr. Losing battery — Hannah Hillman and Briella Hinrichsen. Two or more hits — Rock, None; STA (Kinsey Anderson 3, Aspen Falk 3). 2B — Rock, None; STA (Falk, J. Juhl). 3B — Rock, None; STA (Falk). SB — Rock, None; STA (As. Falk 2, Mallory Juhl, Lia Halfman). RBI — Rock (Haylie Rasing); STA (As. Falk 4, Anderson).

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