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Pioneers hold off Spartan softball rally
It was 6-4 when the dust settled on a well-played Hill-Murray vs. Simley softball game at the Pioneers’ home field May 5.
But it was a very near thing.
In the top of the sixth inning, the Spartans had two bases loaded with no outs. They had already tallied four runs. Jaclyn Bergum laced a pitch that looked like a sure base hit.
Hill-Murray shortstop Nicole Thompson bounced to her left to snare the shot and came up throwing to first to double off the base runner.
The next batter grounded out to second and suddenly the inning — along with Simley’s bid to gain the comeback win — was over.
“We had a good rally going, but that double play stopped us.” Simley head coach Nikki Jung said. “We waited too long to adjust. We needed to get some offensive things going sooner in the game. The first game we played them we had 11 hits. We needed that kind of effort today.”
“We made it interesting didn’t we?” smiled Hill-Murray mentor Dan Kealy. “We were able to hit the ball. Our batters came through at the right time with some very key hits. It was a good win for us.”
In the last of the third inning the Pioneers broke through and figured out the pitching slants of Simley hurler Erin Millerbernd.
Thompson led off with a sharp hit ball to right centerfield. An out later Megan Toninato was safe on an infield boot. Jessica Bonfe lived up to her “cleanup” status in the lineup with a 2-RBI shot into right center.
A second out later Jac Kaasa banged a single to center and Bonfe crossed the plate to make it 3-0 Pioneers.
In the bottom of the fourth the Pioneers kept the hit parade going. Molly Cashman hit a slow roller the left side and beat the peg. Haley LaValle hit a ball to the left side and an attempt at a force at second went awry and the runners were safe.
Thompson put a sacrifice bunt down and was safe on a fielder’s choice. Kennedy Houge lofted a sacrifice fly to left that plated Cashman. Toninato banged a shot to right center and LaValle came home with what turned out to be the game winner. Thompson also came across the plate to give the Pioneers a 6-0 margin.
Spartans fire back
But, in the upper sixth, the Simley bats suddenly woke up big time. Emily Lorence led off with a single to left. Abby Kain worked a walk. Adrianna Guevara reached the hard way when she loaded the bases when she was thumped by a pitch.
In stepped number-four hitter Maggie Kadrlik to deliver a 2-RBI shot to the right centerfield fence. With runners at third and second Millerbernd was safe on an infield error that pushed Guevara across the home disc. Gretchen Boeckman slapped a ground ball through the right side that plated Kadrlik.
Denielle Burger looped a single into left to load the bases in front of the double play shot to Thompson at shortstop for Hill-Murray.
In the final sixth inning the Spartans went down in order and the Pioneers claimed the 2-run, 6-4 triumph.
Next up the Simley Spartans will travel to meet Tartan May 13, before returning home to play Richfield May 15.
The Pioneers travel to meet Richfield May 13, and return home to face South St. Paul May 15 and Tartan May 16.
Games are scheduled 4:15 p.m. starts.