Softball: Kasson-Mantorville hands Zumbrota-Mazeppa first lossZUMBROTA It was a climactic finish to a high-intensity game between second-ranked Zumbrota-Mazeppa and third-ranked Kasson-Mantorville Thursday.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
ZUMBROTA It was a climactic finish to a high-intensity game between second-ranked Zumbrota-Mazeppa and third-ranked Kasson-Mantorville Thursday.
As the Cougars trailed by a run with two outs in the bottom of the seventh inning and runners on first and second base, senior Cait Gunhus hit a pitch back up the middle of the infield. The KoMets’ second baseman kept the ball from going into center field, as well as the tying run from scoring, but fumbled it twice before finally reaching for the bag while junior Amber Jentsch slid into second base. And with the controversial third out call, K-M stayed undefeated and handed Z-M its first loss of the season, 1-0.
“It can’t come down to that,” Z-M head coach Kevin Nelson said of the final play. “It was poor hitting on our part. I told (the team) hopefully they’ll be a bigger game with them.”
The Cougars and KoMets are favorites to make the Section 1AA finals.
Nelson also acknowledged that he could have used a pinch runner for Jentsch in the final inning. He said the coaches missed an opportunity to put in a faster runner.
“That’s something we’ve got to learn from,” Nelson said. “We blew it in that … we could have put a pinch runner in.”
Ninth-grader Madison Damon stole the show for the KoMets (12-0, 10-0 HVL), pitching a complete game one-hitter with one walk and 14 strikeouts. She overpowered the Cougars (13-1, 8-1 HVL) with speed and had Z-M missing the majority of her pitches.
“She just kept throwing the rise ball and we were under it,” Kevin Nelson said. “You’ve got to put the ball in play against that.”
Z-M senior Megan Nelson did her best to match Damon’s performance, giving up an unearned run on two hits and one walk in seven innings. She struck out five.
“She pitched a great game,” Kevin Nelson said. “She’s just one of nine players and she did her job. I thought she battled in tough situations.”
Each team made two errors in the game but Z-M’s proved costly as both came in the third inning to give K-M the only run it needed.
Kaylea Schorr led off the inning with a ground ball to third base that was thrown away and Schorr to advance to second base. Then, two batters later, the Cougars dropped a fly ball at second base that allowed Schorr to score the game-winning run.
“It’s part of the game,” Kevin Nelson said. “We’ll learn from our mistakes and hopefully we’ll get another chance.”
Sophomore Carley Henning tallied Z-M’s lone hit to start the seventh inning and finished 1-for-2 with a walk. Jentsch followed Henning’s hit with a bunt that was dropped at first base to put runners on first and second with no outs. Damon recovered by striking out the next two batters before Gunhus’ ground ball.
The Cougars play against Pine Island Tuesday in Pine Island.