WABASSO - At first it seemed like rain and runs would come in bunches for the Murray County Central softball team in the opening round of the Section 3A-South playoffs on Tuesday. The rain never really came, however, and after plating five runs in the first two innings against No. 6 seeded Windom Area, the No. 3 seeded Rebels were unable to strike again and fell to the Eagles 7-5.
MCC had its opportunities to score throughout the game, scattering 12 hits over seven innings and stranding 11 base runners in the contest.
Three of those left on base were in the final inning, when the Rebels squandered a pair of singles to start the bottom of the seventh. The Rebels filled the bases with a walk, but only after a strikeout and infield fly. A sharp hit grounder to the shortstop followed the walk and was turned into the game's final out.
Kenda Blomgren had one-third of the Rebels' hits against Windom, finishing the day 4-for-4 with an RBI, run scored and two doubles. Lissa Carlson laced three singles to end the game 3-for-4, while Sophie Nepp had the only other multiple-hit game for MCC going 2-for-4.
"Kenda hit well and Lissa Carlson hit well. We just couldn't come up with that one hit," said MCC head coach James Wajer. "That's just the kind of day that it was. You tip your cap to it. We had some good performances just not enough to overcome some of the mistakes."
One of the mistakes Wajer was referring to came in the bottom of the fifth.
Windom202 201 0-7 7 3
MCC230 000 0-5 12 1
W-Meghan Vesey; M-Ashley Clarke. WP-Vesey. LP-Clarke. HR: W-Sami Petersen. 2B: W-Vesey; M-Kenda Blomgren 2. LOB: W-7; M-11.
Trailing 6-5, the Rebels used singles from Carlson and starting pitcher Ashley Clarke to set up a first-and-third with no outs. A courtesy runner entered for Clarke and, in a common steal situation, took off for second on her first chance. Unfortunately for MCC, Makenzie Schmitz missed the sign and popped out to the shortstop. Windom's Hannah Redmond fired the ball over to first base, doubling up Clarke's courtesy runner. MCC would get another runner on with a walk, but a strikeout ended the inning.
"We had a lot of mental mistakes," Wajer said. "We had a steal on and we popped the ball up to the infield to kill a rally. I got a runner thrown out at third. Everybody has a part in winning and everybody has a part in losing."
The latter err took place to start the sixth inning for MCC, when Blomgren was caught in a run-down between second and third stretching a lead-off double. A pair of fly ball outs ended the sixth scoreless for MCC.
Offensively, Windom was able to take advantage of some control issues from Clarke. Six of the Eagles' seven runs were scored after reaching base from either a walk or hit batter. The other Windom run came from Sami Petersen's solo home run in the third inning.
Clarke, who had been brilliant down the stretch of the season for MCC, walked nine batters and threw five wild pitches in the game. She also gave up seven hits, but struck out five.
"She walked quite a few, and when you walk one and throw a wild pitch right after it's like a free double," Wajer said.
Windom's starter, Meghan Vesey, walked four and struck out three over seven innings. She also helped her own cause, going 2-for-3 with a double and driving in three runs off of Clarke. Sutton Dewanz knocked in a pair of runs for Windom on a single in the first inning.
MCC ended its season with a 10-5 record and was the Red Rock Conference champion.
Windom was defeated 3-1 by Wabasso later on Tuesday and moved to the elimination bracket in the Section 3A playoffs, where they will play on Saturday morning in Cottonwood.