It was a tale of two games on Saturday for number 13 Winona State University (WSU) softball against Northern State University. Winona State put people on base but struggled to bring them home in a 10-3 opening game loss. Late-game heroics were needed in the second game as Winona State managed come away with a suspenseful 10-9 victory.
With the split Winona State moves to 16-3 (5-1 NSIC) while Northern State moves to 12-8 (3-3 NSIC).
In game one, after an incredible 34 runs in their previous two games, Winona State looked like they were going to pick up right where they left off as Abbie Hlas and Teaghen Amwoza scored on an RBI single by Katie Kolb in the second inning to give WSU a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately for the Warriors, that was one of their only highlights of the game as Northern State hit single after single to slowly build up their lead. Of the Wolves 18 hits in the game, 17 were singles.
Winona State attempted to mount a comeback in the sixth as Hlas doubled home Amwoza to cut the NSU lead to three, but WSU couldn’t manage to get another run on the board in the final two innings and would end up falling 10-3
Senior Jordyn Kleman (10-1) struggled in the loss, giving up a season high 10 hits and six runs.
Amwoza and Hlas went a combined 5-for-5 in the loss, scoring all three runs for the Warriors. Kolb led the way with two RBIs.
In game two, Winona State quickly forgot about that opening game and quickly put up two runs in the bottom of the first. Katie Kolb scored on a Libby Neveau single, which was followed by a great play by Neveau to score on a passed ball by the catcher.
WSU built on their lead in the second inning with two RBI doubles by both Rylee Stout and Marissa Mullen. After two innings Winona State had a 6-0 lead and looked as though they were going to cruise to another easy victory.
The bats for Northern State came alive in the top of the third. They scored seven runs on seven hits to give them a 7-6 lead heading into the bottom half of the inning.
Over the course of the next three innings the Warriors struggled at the plate, managing just one hit and one walk. Following a two-run sixth inning for NSU, Winona State looked like they were on track to lose two regular season conference games in a row for the first time since April 11, 2017. Then came up Rylee Stout. With two outs on the board and runners at first and second the senior did what she does best, blasting a no-doubt home run over the left-center fence to tie the game up at nine. Not to be outdone, sophomore sensation Libby Neveau stepped up to the plate on the very next at-bat and crushed a homer to left field to give WSU a 10-9 lead going into the bottom of the seventh.
Jordyn Kleman came on in the seventh inning and did what she does best, striking out three of the four batters in the inning to give the Warriors win number 16 on the year.
Abbie Hlas (1-0), pitched a very solid 3.1 innings to get the first win of her promising career. Kleman nabbed her first save of the year in the victory.
Stout, Neveau, and Hlas all put up two hits for the Warriors in game two. Stout led the way with five RBIs.
Things don’t get any easier for the Warriors next week as they play host to the number 20 Mavericks of Minnesota State-Mankato on Wednesday, April 7. First pitch of the double-header is set for 2 p.m., with the second game to follow.