MANKATO - The No. 1-seeded Mankato Loyola Crusaders rallied for six runs in the third to defeat the No. 2-seed Martin County West Mavericks 11-3 in Section 2A quarterfinal softball action on Saturday at Caswell Park in Mankato.
Then No. 2-seed, Sleepy Eye St. Mary's Knights, ousted the Mavericks with a 6-5 win in Game 2.
The Crusaders (17-2) went on to beat the other No. 1 seed Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity 4-1 to reach the section final at 5 p.m. on Thursday in Mankato.
WINDING UP — Martin County West pitcher Rebecca Steen steps up to deliver a pitch in Section 2A playoff softball action on Saturday at Caswell Park in Mankato. (Photo Courtesy of Steve Muscatello/New Ulm Journal)
Martin County West finishes its season with a 10-6 record.
The Mavericks used 16 hits to score eight runs, but left 18 runners on base in the two games, giving both the Crusaders and the Knights' opportunities to clinch victories.
"We were getting good hits and getting runners on base, but a lot of times we just weren't able to get the big hit when we needed it," said Martin County West head coach Darrell Ziegler.
Mankato Loyola's Jessi VanBlarcom went 3-for-4, scoring one run and knocking in two RBIs to pace the Crusaders in the Game 1 victory.
Katie Homan pitched seven innings and allowed 10 hits, three earned runs and struck out two to earn the win.
After the Crusaders scored four runs in the second, including one with Sam Larsen's solo home run, the Mavericks bounced back to score three runs to keep the lead at one.
Junior Rebecca Steen hit a solo blast to left field for a home run to score the first of three Maverick runs.
Morgan Williamson then hit a double off the left-center field fence to keep the offensive rally going.
Williamson, who went 2-for-3 in the game, wheeled to third on a passed ball and then proceeded to score on Shawna Dressen's RBI single up the middle.
Martin County West's Tayler Hagen laid down a bunt for a single to reach first, before moving to second on Molly Klima's fielder's choice.
The Mavericks' Kennedy Janssen scored Hagen from second with a sizzling single down the third baseline to make it 4-3.
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the Crusaders' bats caught fire in the bottom of the third, scoring six runs, on their way to an 11-3 win.
"We responded well after their first offensive rally, but we made too many mistakes and they took advantage of them," said Ziegler.
Steen pitched six innings, allowing 11 runs - two earned - on seven hits, striking out four and walking two to take the loss for the Mavericks.
After dropping the opening game of the day, the Mavericks got off to a slow start in Game 2, falling behind 5-3 after three innings, but rallied to make it a one-run game against the Knights.
With the Mavericks trailing 6-3 with one out in the bottom of the seventh, Steen, who went 2-for-4, lined a hit to left, before wheeling to second on a wild pitch.
Williamson took first with a walk and after a fly-ball out Dressen drove a hit to left to score Steen and Williamson to make it a one-run game.
The Mavericks were unable to keep the rally going, and the Knights clinched the win to continue their season.
Maddy Helget went 3-for-4 for the Knights, including a triple, while Larissa Helget and Karissa Fleck went 2-for-4 with a pair of singles.
Maddy Helget also commanded the chalk circle, allowing five runs - four earned - on six hits, striking out four and walking four for the win.
The Mavericks' Dressen went 2-for-4, including a solo home run, with 3 RBIs and a run scored in the game; and finished 4-for-8 on the day. Steen pitched seven innings, allowing six runs on 11 hits and walking three to take the loss.
MCW 003 000 0 - 3 10 5
Loyola 046 001 x - 11 7 2
Katie Homan (WP) and MaKenna Elert. Rebecca Steen (LP) and Shawna Dressen.
LOB-MCW 10; Loyola 4. 2B-Jordyn Strachan (ML), Elert (ML) and Morgan Williamson (MCW). HR-Sam Larsen (ML), Steen (MCW).
SESM 230 001 0 - 6 11 3
MCW 111 000 2 - 5 6 3
Maddy Helget (WP) and Bethany Berkner. Steen (LP) and Dressen.
LOB-SESM 10; MCW 8. 2B-Berkner (SESM), Steen (MCW). 3B-M. Helget (SESM), Jordan Gregory (MCW). HR-Dressen (MCW).