BLUE EARTH - Belle Plaine junior starting pitcher Maddie Studnicka allowed just two hits in her season-opening performance and went 2-for-4 with a double and a three-run home run at the plate to lead the Tigers to a 14-0, five-inning nonconference softball victory over the Blue Earth Area Bucs on Monday in Blue Earth.
Studnicka also received offensive support from senior first baseman Sam Lemay, who went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs - part of the Tigers' eight-run second inning - to secure the victory.
"Well that wasn't how we had hoped to start the season, but it's the first game, and except for one inning, I thought it was good for the first game," said Blue Earth Area head coach Abby Bloomquist. "When a team can really hit the ball like that, it makes it tough, but we'll learn and hopefully come back (today) and do better."
OUT AT THE PLATE — Belle Plaine catcher Kaylee Shields (right) tags out Blue Earth Area runner Kiley Ahl attempting to score on a passed ball during season-opening, nonconference softball action on Monday in Blue Earth. Photo by Leanna Becker
McKenzie Koepp ignited the Tigers' scoring rally in the second by pounding a hit through the left side of the infield before Kaylee Hentges and Madison Lark moved her to third on a walk and a hit, respectively.
With the bases loaded, Koepp scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0 in the second inning.
Bucs hurler Abby Nimz then recorded the first out of the inning by striking out Claire Otto to stall the Tiger rally.
Tiger leadoff hitter Kate Schmidt responded by making her lone hit of the game count, recording an RBI with a single to score Hentges from third. Elizabeth Johnson drew a walk in the No. 2 spot of the Tigers' batting order to continue the rally.
Lemay then sparked the scoring surge with a soaring double to the left-center fence to score both Lark and Schmidt. With Lemay and Johnson on second and third, Studnicka scorched a Nimz delivery just over the Bucs' fencing for a three-run home run to take the 9-0 lead.
Blue Earth Area senior Megan Wirtjes halted the Tiger scoring rally in a relief appearance, striking out the next two batters for the final outs of the inning.
The Tigers had a two-run third inning, with Lark and Schmidt scoring on Johnson's double to left to make it 11-0.
Studnicka followed in the fourth, smacking her second extra-base hit of the game to the bottom of the fence in left-center for a double.
The nimble pitcher then stole third and was able to score on Sophie Brazil's base hit to center.
Brazil wheeled to second on Monica Krieger's throw home on the play, and would score on Lark's grounder to second three batters later.
Wirtjes was able to keep the Tiger offense in check, allowing four earned runs on six hits, while striking out four in her three innings of relief.
"I thought that both pitchers were doing a good job of hitting spots at times, and they were adjusting to players the second time they faced them in the order," said Bloomquist. "Without the one inning, I thought that it was a pretty good game."
Krieger provided some life to the Bucs' offense in the second inning, recording the first hit of the season on a single just over the infield. Sophomore Kylie Ahl also smoked a double just inside the third base line in the fourth, but unfortunately for Blue Earth Area, it was unable to get a rally going in either inning.
"I think our bats looked better today in the first game than they did last year at this time," said Bloomquist. "Even though we didn't score, I thought that was definitely a positive thing."
Along with Studnicka and Lemay's offensive production, Johnson went 1 of 3 with two RBIs and a run scored, while Lark was 1-for-3 effort and two runs scored. Schmidt and Brazil each finished 1 of 4 with three runs scored and two RBIs.
Blue Earth Area (0-1) will play host to St. Peter in a rescheduled South Central Conference game at 5:30 p.m. today in Blue Earth.
Belle Plaine (1-0) will travel to face Tri-City United at 5 p.m. today.
Belle Plaine 182 21 - 14 11 0
B.E. Area 000 00 - 0 2 5
Maddie Studnicka (WP) and Kaylee Shields. Abby Nimz (LP), Megan Wirtjes (2) and Janessa Jahnke.
LOB-Belle Plaine 4, Blue Earth Area 4. 2B-Kiley Ahl (BEA), Elizabeth Johnson (BP), Sam Lemay (BP) and Studnicka (BP). HR-Studnicka (BP).
Madelia/Truman 5, Mountain Lake Area 2 - Beth Kotewa fired a four-hit complete game to help the Jayhawks post a 5-2 nonconference victory over the Wolverines on Monday in Mountain Lake.
Kotewa gave up two runs on four hits, struck out four, issued three walks and hit one batter in seven innings of work to earn the victory.
Kotewa also produced an RBI fielder's choice from an offensive standpoint, while teammate Savannah Stevens doubled in two official at-bats and scored a run.
Abagail Eldridge collected the Jayhawks' other hit, Taylor Thomas walked twice and scored a pair of runs, while Sierra McCraw bunted home a run.
Margaret Kispert went 1-for-3 with an RBI to top Mountain Lake Area, while Signey Stoesz chipped in an RBI single.
Wolverine starting pitcher Janessa Peters allowed five runs on two hits, walked 12 and struck out six in 6 1/3 innings to take the loss.
Madelia/Truman (1-1) travels to St. Clair today.
M/T 100 112 0 - 5 2 1
MLA 000 200 0 - 2 4 3
Beth Kotewa (WP) and Ciera Drevlow. Janessa Peters (LP), Signey Stoesz (7) and Margaret Kispert.