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Softball: Top-ranked KoMets fight off Cougars

Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Amber Gehrke tosses a pitch against a Kasson-Mantorville batter during Tuesday's Hiawatha Valley League game in Zumbrota. The No. 1-ranked KoMets left Tuesday's game with a 4-2 victory over the Cougars. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)1 / 2
Zumbrota-Mazeppa's Alyssa Quam heads home after belting a two-run home run in the bottom of the second inning in Tuesday's game against Kasson-Mantorville in Zumbrota. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)2 / 2

ZUMBROTA – A lot of people left happy. A lot of people left disappointed. Nobody left thinking there could have been a better game.

Two of Class 2A’s best teams squared off Tuesday afternoon, and it was visiting top-ranked Kasson-Mantorville that got the win over sixth-ranked Zumbrota-Mazeppa, 4-2.

But it was the Cougars, and Alyssa Quam specifically, that put the first dent in the scoreboard in the second inning.

After falling behind 0-2, Quam evened the count before unleashing on a pitch in her wheelhouse. The ball sailed high over the fence and into the junior varsity game where the right fielder was kind enough to throw the ball back. Quam’s smile got bigger the closer she got to the plate, where her teammates were waiting.

“It was an inside pitch, high, and I’m kind of a pull hitter,” Quam said. “It doesn’t happen very often for me. But it felt good.”

Along the first-base line, behind the fence, K-M’s local radio station declared that the two-run blast that scored Hailey Dykes was the first earned runs pitcher Maddie Damon had given up this season. But it wouldn’t be long before Damon nullified her first slipup.

In the third inning, Damon stepped to the plate and laced an opposite-field line drive to right-center field. The fences, short all the way around, were not nearly long enough, or tall enough to contain the blast, something that would not be the case on most other fields.

“That’s what I told the girls, too. That’s exactly what I told them,” Nelson said. “Consider everything the same, our home run is a home run, and theirs is a double. But they also scored two more runs that we didn’t.”

With the game back to square one, it would be the KoMets who struck next, and struck last.

With two out in the sixth, Dana Rasmussen fought an RBI single to left off Z-M pitcher Amber Gehrke. Then, in the seventh, a throwing error cost the Cougars another run. And that was all Damon needed as she took care of three straight batters in the bottom of the seventh to clinch the victory for K-M.

“I thought (Damon) made some adjustments, and we didn’t,” Nelson said. “When we scored on her, you saw the competitiveness come out of her and she started to throw a little harder and we couldn’t catch up to it. So now we know how hard she can throw and we have to go to work on that because come playoff time, she’s going to throw hard.”

Gehrke ended up with the loss, throwing all seven innings and giving up three earned runs on nine hits and two hit batters. Quam went 1-for-2 with two RBI on a home run, and Dykes finished 1-for-3 with a run scored. Those were the only two hits the Cougars could muster off of Damon who struck out 11 Z-M batters.

The Cougars will have to rebound quickly as Z-M has three games over the next three days. Pine Island will visit Wednesday, with trips to Lake City and Triton coming Friday and Saturday. Just two losses mar the Cougars’ schedule at this point – the other being to Hayfield – but there is still work to be done before meeting up with the KoMets in a possible section final.

“We have nothing to lose,” Nelson said. “They’re the No. 1 team in the state, and we’re chasing them. I think we’re fully capable of beating them. It should make for an interesting section, if we get there. We have to beat some teams to get there. Cannon Falls has a good team. Byron has a good team. Stewartville has a good team. There’s a lot of good teams around to get knocked out before that.”

Kyle Stevens
Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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