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Cannon Falls' Lydia Franken unleashes a pitch during Monday's HVL game at Lake City. Franken struck out eight in the Bombers' 11-1 five-inning victory. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)
Cannon Falls' Lydia Franken unleashes a pitch during Monday's HVL game at Lake City. Franken struck out eight in the Bombers' 11-1 five-inning victory. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

Softball: Bombers' fast start sinks Tigers

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Red Wing Minnesota 2760 North Service Drive / P.O. Box 15 55066

LAKE CITY – It didn’t take Cannon Falls long to get its bearings in the season opener.

Scoring four runs in the top of the first inning against Lake City, the Bombers were in cruise control the rest of the way, putting away the Tigers 11-1 for a Hiawatha Valley League victory on Monday.

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Cannon Falls head coach Mike Gunderson said that his team spent a grand total of 40 minutes outside prior to Monday’s game, but the bats and pitching looked closer to mid-season form.

“We hit the ball relatively hard today, considering that we didn’t get great pitches to swing at. We had lots of line drives,” Gunderson said. “Our offense has been sketchy in the past, but I’ve been encouraged by what I’ve seen in a dome (in preseason softball) and in today’s game.”

Becca Vandenheuvel brought the Bombers’ first run in on an RBI single. Cannon Falls then tacked on three more runs in the first thanks to five walks and a wild pitch.

Starting pitcher Alison Moechnig and the rest of the Lake City lineup did get better as the game went on, but the first-game jitters were apparent for the Tigers.

“We just need situational awareness,” said Lake City head coach Mike Johnson. “We have to know what we’re doing before we do it. … As the season goes along, we’re going to do better. A lot better.”

And with the way Lydia Franken was throwing for Cannon Falls, it was tough for the Tigers to get any traction. The Bombers’ hard-throwing righty struck out eight in just 3 1/3 innings of work before coming out of the game due to soreness.

“She was not completely sharp, but she did a really nice job,” Gunderson said of Franken.

Brooke Peters added a run for Cannon Falls in the top of the third on a groundout by Sami Cromer, and the Bombers tacked on three runs in the fourth and fifth innings to put the 10-run rule into effect.

Cannon Falls’ leadoff hitter, Ashly Serres, had two singles and three runs scored, and Vandenheuvel finished 3-for-3 with two doubles and two runs. In total, the Bombers (1-0) had eight hits and drew eight walks.

That extra aggressiveness in the batter’s box is just what Gunderson wants to see out of his squad as they try to overcome last year’s 6-12 record.

“You can stop a swing, but it’s hard to start a swing when you have four-tenths of a second to react,” Gunderson said. “If you attempt, mentally, to hit every pitch, you’re more apt to be more aggressive.”

Limited to four hits, Lake City’s lone run came in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Josie Kuchinka. Opening the season at 0-3, the Tigers have been outscored 57-1 after a 16-0 loss to Stewartville and a 30-0 loss to Kasson-Mantorville during a doubleheader in Rochester on Saturday.

Cannon Falls plays Thursday at home against La Crescent, while Lake City hosts the three-team Lake City invitational Saturday. The Tigers start at 11 a.m. against Minneapolis Southwest and then play Goodhue in the final game. 

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