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Softball: Red Wing puts a scare in Pepin/Alma

Red Wing's Hailey Kuhl trots home after smacking a solo home run in the sixth inning of Monday's game against Pepin/Alma in Red Wing.1 / 2
Red Wing's Emily Boxrud tosses a pitch during Monday's game against Pepin/Alma in Red Wing.2 / 2

Red Wing wasn't supposed to win Monday at home against Pepin/Alma.

The Wingers have just two wins this season, and the Eagles (18-1) are a perennial small-school powerhouse in Wisconsin.

But Red Wing made Pepin/Alma sweat out the final innings as the Wingers fell just short of the upset in a 5-3 defeat.

"I always say finish strong," said Red Wing head coach Jon Bohmbach, "and they definitely did that."

The Eagles led 5-1 into the seventh inning before the Wingers charged back with two runs and had the bases loaded with only one out. The comeback was stopped as Pepin/Alma's Breanna Ellison coaxed a groundout to the pitcher and a fielder's choice to end the game.

"That's an 18-1 team and they're a good ball club," Bohmbach said. "I'm sure they were a little nervous at the end."

Hailey Kuhl, who missed last season with a knee injury, was the catalyst for Red Wing (2-12) as she went 2-for-4 with her first career home run along with three RBI in the loss. Both hits and all three RBI came in the last two innings. Kuhl said as a catcher and a hitter she is now completely confident in her knee.

"It's not fazing me," she said. "I worked hard to get it back."

Makaela Egan was 3-for-4 with a stolen base and Laura Chalmers finished 2-for-4 in the loss. Emily Boxrud pitched 6 1/3 innings for the Wingers, giving up five runs on seven hits and six walks. She struck out nine.

"She does a nice job of mixing up the speeds," Bohmbach said of Boxrud. "Against a power-hitting team, it's hard to get a crack at it. She's got to give up less walks though, she knows it, and that will come. Once she knocks down the walks, she'll be even more effective."

The Eagles were led by Ali Murray who went 2-for-4 with a stolen base. Olivia Rotering struck out in her first three at-bats but hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to give Pepin/Alma a 5-1 lead. Ellison threw a complete game for the Eagles, allowing three runs on nine hits and one walk while striking out five.

Both pitchers were on their games early as Pepin/Alma led 1-0 through the first five innings.

"(Boxrud) pitched really well," Kuhl said. "Her inside curveball was very good today. We got a lot of strikeouts on that pitch."

The first extended rally came in the top of the sixth inning when Morgan Steinke led off with a double. Katie Herold walked, Steinke stole third base and Allie Laehn singled to lead the bases on a wind-aided pop-up that dropped between a couple Red Wing fielders. Cori Terpstra walked to bring in a run, Kayla Meixner hit a sacrifice fly to right field to plate Herold and Murray knocked in Laehn with two outs for a 4-0 lead.

On the second pitch of the bottom half of the sixth inning, Kuhl deposited a blast over the wall in left-center-field to cut the deficit to 4-1. The Wingers tallied two more hits in the inning but couldn't push across another run.

The Eagles responded with a run in the seventh inning on a home run by Rotering to lead by four runs going into the final frame.

Red Wing didn't go down quietly, starting the bottom of the seventh inning with a single by Rebecca Swenning and getting an error by Pepin/Alma to put runners on first and second with no outs. After a groundout moved the runners up a base, Kuhl came through with a two-run single. Hannah Walch and Egan followed with two more singles to load the bases before the rally was halted.

The Wingers continued Missota Conference play Tuesday on the road against New Prague.

Chris Harrell
Chris Harrell is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he interned at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and The Daily Caller in Washington, D.C. For updates on local sports, follow Chris on Twitter at @RECHarrell.
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