MARSHALL - Twice in the final three innings the Section 3AA, North Sub-Section No. 2-seeded Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta Tigers had to fend off the South Sub-Section No. 5 seed Fairmont on Saturday.
The Cardinals threatened to cut into the Tigers' 6-1 lead in both the fourth and sixth innings, but didn't have enough offense to overcome the deficit.
Morris Area/Chokio Alberta (18-6) held on to defeat Fairmont in the sectional tournament game 6-4.
EYE?ON?THE?BALL — Fairmont third baseman Micaela Gochanour (8) catches a popup against Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta during Section 3AA playoff softball action on Saturday in Marshall. The Tigers’ Megan Gillespie (7) runs back to tag, while Fairmont’s Aly Eversman (5) looks on. (Photo by Kjestine Steinbring)
The Tigers edged Marshall 2-1 during their second elimination game Saturday to set up a 5 p.m. Tuesday elimination game against Jackson County Central.
Ironically, Fairmont finished its season with the program's first-ever winning record at 12-11.
"I was really proud of the way that our girls kept fighting in the game," said Fairmont head coach Terry Ehlert. "They could have given up when the Tigers took the lead, but they didn't. They kept fighting right to the end."
The Cardinals jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first. After Courtney Guetter, who went 2-for-4, led off with a single, she swiped second before racing to third on a passed ball.
Abby Fitzgerald then laid down a perfect bunt on the first baseline to allow Guetter to race home for the RBI.
Unfortunately for Fairmont, its lead was short-lived, with the Tigers roaring back in the bottom of the first inning.
Becca Holland smacked a leadoff double before Chelsey Ehleringer drew a walk on four straight pitches.
Lauren Reimers then delivered a blast, crushing a home run to center to put the Tigers on top 3-1.
Despite another two hits in the inning by the Tigers, Fairmont starter Aly Eversman and her defense were able get out of the jam.
Tiger starting pitcher Kayla Pring kept the Cardinals in check through the third inning, only allowing one runner.
Pring's teammates added to their lead in the bottom of the third though, making it a 6-1 game.
Pinch hitter Sam Heinrichs drew a walk to lead off the inning before Carlie Zimmel smacked a hit down the third baseline to lead off the inning to put runners on first and second.
Brooke Johnson drew a walk to load the bases for the Tigers, before Megan Gillespie hit a grounder to short. The grounder sent Heinrichs home for the first out of the inning, but left the bases loaded.
Zimmel, who went 2-for-3 for the Tigers, then scored on a Nicole Strobel's walk, and Johnson scored on another bases-loaded walk to Holland to make it 5-1.
The Cardinals then brought in reliever Mikayla Krzywicki, who got a Ehleringer to hit a fly ball to left, but Gillespie scored on the tag to make it a 6-1 game.
The Cardinals were able to stop the damage there, getting Reimers, who finished 2-for-4 at the plate, to ground out to second to end the inning.
In the fourth, Fairmont added some offense of its own.
Micaela Gochanour, who went 2-for-4 at the plate, laid down a bunt for a hit to lead off the inning.
The Cardinal third baseman then swiped second to get into scoring position.
"I thought that we took some good chances today when we needed to score some runs," said Ehlert. "There was maybe one time I'd like to have back, but I just wanted us to stay aggressive to have a chance to win. A lot of times just trying something aggressive can spark something."
Kristen Campe smacked a hit to right, moving Gochanour to third, before Allison Moeller hit a grounder to second, forcing Campe out with runners on the corners.
Moeller then motored to second on a delivery to Eversman, who drew a walk to load the bases.
Lisa Craig, who went 1-for-2 in the game, then was able to score Gochanour from third for an RBI, smacking a hit through the infield.
With the bases still loaded, Tieryn Arens hit a fly ball to the edge of the infield, allowing Moeller to race home to cut the deficit in half.
The Cardinals were able to add a run in the top of the sixth as they tried to retake the lead.
Eversman led off with a hit and swiped second, before Craig drew a walk to put runners on first and second.
Arens hit a fly ball that allowing Eversman and Craig to tag up and advance.
Kayla Lardy then smacked a hit to right, giving Eversman the chance to score and on the throw home, Craig reached third and Lardy cruised into second.
The Tigers did manage to stop the rally for the Cardinals though, getting Guetter to ground out for the final out of the inning.
"You hate to see the season end, it's never easy and we'd have liked to have a chance to get a few more wins," said Ehlert. "The good thing though is that these kids left it all out on the field, they gave it everything they had and didn't give up. I'm proud of them for that."
Pring pitched all seven innings for the Tigers, allowing four runs on five hits, striking out one and walking two to earn the win.
Eversman pitched 2 1/3 innings, allowing six runs on seven hits, striking out one and walking four to absorb the loss.
In relief, Krzywicki pitched 3 2/3 innings and gave up just two hits.
FMT 100 201 0 - 4 5 1
MACA 303 000 x - 6 9 1
Kayla Pring (WP) and Brooke Johnson. Aly Eversman (LP), Mikayla Krzywicki (3) and Tieryn Arens.
2B-Becca Holland (MACA) 2. HR-Lauren Reimers (MACA). SAC-Abby Fitzgerald (F).
Section 2A Playoffs
The South Sub-Section No. 2-seeded Martin County West Mavericks held off the No. 4-seeded Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial Knights in their first game, but lost to the North No. 2 seed Sleepy Eye St. Mary's during Section 2A playoff action on Saturday at Caswell Park in Mankato.
Martin County West finished its season with a 15-4 overall record.
St. Mary's scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to sneak by the Mavericks 5-4 during the second elimination game on Saturday.
Emily Schumacher recorded two hits, including a triple, driving in a pair of runs to pace St. Mary's offense.
Larissa Helget had a pair of hits with an RBI, while Karissa Fleck added two hits and drove in two RBIs.
Anna Lux pitched the complete game, allowing four runs on 10 hits, striking out five to take the win.
Sierra Williamson had three hits, including an RBI double, to pace the Mavericks' offense.
Shawna Dressen had a pair of hits and drove in two RBIs, while Kate Thiesse tallied two hits in the game.
Ellie Kuehl, Martha Olson and Jordan Gregory each chipped in a hit for the Mavericks.
Rebecca Steen pitched six innings, allowing five runs on 12 hits, walking three and striking out four to absorb the loss.
The Mavericks benefited from an appeal at the end of the game to outlast Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 3-2 in the first elimination game on Saturday.
LCWM had a chance to tie the game in the seventh inning, with one of their players drawing a walk.
Then her teammate smacked a double, allowing the runner from first to score, however, she missed third base.
The Mavericks then appealed and the umpire called the runner out to end the game.
Gregory had a pair of hits for the Mavericks, including a double, before Dressen drove in Gregory in the fifth inning with a single.
Williamson had an RBI single, while Steen recorded one hit in the win.
Steen pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits, striking out nine and walking two to earn the win.
Maddie LeMay had an RBI single for LCWM in the game.
Sami Sorenson pitched six innings allowing three runs on five hits, striking out seven and walking four to absorb the loss.
LCWM 000 200 0 - 2 4 0
MCW 002 010 x - 3 5 2
Sami Sorenson (LP) and McKenzie Tibbetts. Rebecca Steen (WP) and Shawna Dressen.
MCW 013 000 0 - 4 10 2
SESM 110 003 x - 5 12 3
Rebecca Steen (LP) and Shawna Dressen. Anna Lux and Bethany Berkner.