WELCOME - Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial junior right-hander Sami Sorenson and Martin County West senior hurler Rebecca Steen locked up in a good-to-the-last-delivery old-fashioned pitchers' duel on Thursday.
Sorenson and her Knight teammates, however, converted walks in the third and fifth innings into the go-ahead and insurance runs, respectively, during Valley Conference softball action at the Fox Lake Area Sports Complex.
Kenzie Schaffer drove in LCWM's second and third runs with a fielder's choice and a single, respectively, while Sorenson produced an RBI single in the first inning to propel the Knights to a 3-1 victory over the hometown Mavericks in Welcome.
OUTRACING THE TOSS — Martin County West runner Kate Thiesse (21) takes a long stride and stretches toward second base as Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial catcher Kenzie Tibbetts’ throw heads to Knights’ shortstop Bailey Rustman during Valley Conference softball action Thursday at the Fox Lake Area Sports Complex in Welcome. Thiesse beat the throw for a stolen base. Umpire Randy Grupe looks on. (Photo by Charlie Sorrells)
"I thought both pitchers did a nice job today, and both teams played well," Martin County West mentor Darrell Ziegler said in reference to the errorless clash that was moved to the Mavericks' diamond due to wet field conditions in Lake Crystal.
Kate Thiesse lined a leadoff single to open the game for Martin County West, but the hard-throwing Sorenson escaped unscathed by recording one of her game-best 10 strikeouts before the LCWM infielders displayed hit-robbing glovework.
First baseman Kenzie Schaffer speared Jordan Gregory's sizzling line-drive for the second out in the top of the first before Knight shortstop Bailey Rustman pocketed a rocket off the aluminum bat of Shawna Dressen to end the Mavericks' initial at-bat.
Sorenson then wielded lethal lumber during the home half of the first to assist her own cause. Rustman, who had singled to left with one out, took second base on a wild pitch before circling the bases on Sorenson's RBI single to left for an early 1-0 lead.
Sorenson then struck out the Mavericks in order during the second frame before Maddie LeMay and the Knights threatened during the home half.
LeMay smacked a one-out double to the fence, but was later erased when MCW catcher Shawna Dressen threw her out trying to take third. Steen then recorded one of her six strikeouts on the game to thwart the threat.
Ellie Kuehl and the Mavericks reached the scoreboard during the top of the third to knot the game at 1-all. Kuehl legged out an infield hit, took second on a wild pitch, moved to third on Thiesse's fielder's choice and crossed the plate on a wild pitch.
Kenzie Tibbetts then converted a leadoff walk with a stolen base, a wild pitch and Schaffer's RBI fielder's choice groundout to manufacture a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third.
Sorenson later issued her only base-on-balls of the game to Molly Klima with one out in the top of the fifth, but coaxed a popup on an ensuing bunt for the second out.
Martha Olson deposited a single into shallow left to put Mavericks at first and second, but Sorenson notched a pivotal strikeout to maintain the Knights' one-run edge.
Rustman then worked out a one-out walk in the fifth before being replaced on base via Sorenson's groundout. Sorenson advanced to second on a passed ball before scoring on Schaffer's RBI single up the middle for a 3-1 lead.
The Mavericks threatened one last time in the sixth when Steen singled and Gregory reached on a fielder's choice that did not produce an out. Sorenson averted danger again by logging two strikeouts to keep the differential at two runs.
Sorenson allowed one unearned run on four hits, struck out 10 and walked only one in seven innings of work to earn the complete-game victory for the Knights.
Steen gave up three earned runs on six hits, struck out six and walked four in six innings of work to absorb the loss for the Mavericks.
Martin County West (5-1, 3-1 Valley) travels to Okabena today to face Southwestern United.
Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial (4-5, 2-3) plays host to St. Clair on Tuesday.
MCW 001 000 0 - 1 4 0
LCWM 101 010 x - 3 6 0
Rebecca Steen (LP) and Shawna Dressen. Sami Sorenson (WP) and Kenzie Tibbetts.
LOB-MCW 5; LCWM 6. 2B-Maddie LeMay (LCWM). SAC-Ashlie Wiens (LCWM).