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Softball: Wingers run roughshod over Blake

Red Wing catcher McKenzie Cota takes a swing at a pitch during Saturday's non-conference game against Blake at Red Wing High School. Cota went 3-for-3 with a double and three runs scored in the Wingers' 14-2 five-inning victory. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)1 / 2
Red Wing pitcher Emily Boxrud winds up for a pitch in Saturday's home game against Blake. Boxrud struck out six in the Wingers' 14-2 five-inning victory. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)2 / 2

For the first time in a long time, confidence is brimming from the Red Wing softball team. On Saturday, the Wingers won their fourth straight game with a 14-2 five-inning home victory over Blake, giving another boost to a much-improved lineup that won just two games in 2013. 

“I think it was 2004 since we had a winning record in the regular season. It’s been a long, long road to get here,” said Red Wing head coach Jon Bohmbach. “Now you can see us have confidence. …  when something bad happens, the other teams get down. We’re doing that to other teams now instead of that happening to us.

Every facet of the game performed strong for the Wingers on Saturday. In Saturday’s victory, Red Wing (5-3) finished with 12 hits and no errors, and starting pitcher Emily Boxrud held the visiting Bears to two hits with six strikeouts.

“We have a winning streak going and that really drives us to keep going. It boosts our confidence levels up, especially when we win in five innings like today,” said senior shortstop Hailey Kuhl. “Pitching is what has been solid for us right now. … When we get our bats going, that’s always helpful. One run starts then the next, and then it’s a chain reaction.

Bohmbach admits that it took some time to convince the team, but the Wingers are starting to believe they are for real.

“I really believe that they were the last ones to believe in themselves,” Bohmbach said. “We’ve said, ‘You guys are good. You’re doing everything right. You’re really looking good,’ but they were really hesitant. I think now they are starting to believe and understand that yes, we can do this.”

Trailing 1-0 after the first inning, Red Wing was able to figure out Blake pitcher Sydney Scobee, hitting the Bears’ pitcher early in the count on the way to a six-run, four-hit inning.

Spearheading that charge was McKenzie Cota, who got the team’s first hit. Cota and Hannah Walch scored on a throwing error, and Kuhl came up with a two-run double to score Maria Furlong and Jordan Munson. Kelsey Reding and Kuhl reached home on another throwing error to make it 6-1 after two.

“Right now, I think there isn’t any pitcher they feel confident that they can’t hit,” Bohmbach said.

The hot bats continued in the third as Red Wing cracked five hits, including a double by Cota and RBI singles from Munson, Kuhl and Hailee Johnson.

“Basically, what we’ve told ourselves is If it looks good, hit it,” said Kuhl, who went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double and three RBI. “That’s what we’re going to do. That’s been our motto.”

Cota, who finished 3-for-3 with three runs, added, “Everyone’s been hitting, everyone’s helping each other out. It’s been really fun these last couple weeks.”

The Wingers tacked on another five runs in the bottom of the fourth as Cota, Walch, Furlong, Reding and Kuhl all tallied runs, putting the 10-run rule into play after Blake scored just one run in the top of the fifth.

A big part of Red Wing’s dominant performance Saturday was the play of its 7-8-9 hitters. Furlong, Munson and Reding went a combined 4-for-6 at the plate with three walks and seven runs scored.

“The bottom of the order has been huge lately,” Bohmbach said. “(Kelsey’s) been on base six times in a row. To have that for a No. 9 hitter is so huge.”

Trying to extend their win streak, the Wingers face one of their toughest Missota Conference tests at home Tuesday against Chanhassen. The Storm (6-2) already hold a 3-2 victory over Red Wing back on April 15.

Jumping back into Missota play will be a challenge, but the Wingers aren’t about to let their new-found confidence slip.

“It’s going to be really different going from these non-conference games to games like Chanhassen,” Cota said, “but we’ll do it. We’ll keep it up.”

Kuhl added, “By winning these non-conference game, it’s giving us the mindset that we can go and we can win games in the conference, and we will win games in the conference. It helps us gain our confidence by doing the little things and putting them together at the end.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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