Veronica Silva of the Albert Lea U18 Ruby softball team throws the ball to the pitching circle Tuesday against the Winona WinStars Orange at the Hammer Complex. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Veronica Silva of the Albert Lea U18 Ruby softball team throws the ball to the pitching circle Tuesday against the Winona WinStars Orange at the Hammer Complex. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Albert Lea U18 softball splits with Winona

Published 7:53pm Tuesday, July 8, 2014

In polar opposite games, the Albert Lea U18 softball team split a doubleheader against the Winona WinStars Orange squad.

The Tigers (7-1 overall) crushed Winona 10-0 in Game 1 and suffered its first loss of the season 3-1 in Game 2 Tuesday at the Hammer Complex.

Summer softball gives Albert Lea coach Dan Harms an opportunity to evaluate players for Albert Lea High School’s season next spring.

“It gives us a good look at our players,” said coach Harms. “We’re able to see what their skills are like for an extended couple of months. We’ll see who can hit against better pitching, and I’ll move them around to play different positions.”

Albert Lea entered the game as one of two undefeated teams in the eight-team league.

The other team with a perfect record was the Winona Winstars Blue squad. It’s players play for Winona Cotter High School, and the Winona Winstars Orange squad plays for Winona High School. The Orange squad entered Tuesday’s doubleheader with a 5-1 record and a third-place spot in the league standings.

In Game 1, Albert Lea hit on all cylinders.

After a scoreless first inning, the Tigers scored five runs in the bottom of the second.

“That second inning took the wind out of their sails,” coach Harms said. “We had good pitching, good catching and good defense.”

Kassi Hardies led off with a single to center field. Veronica Silva followed with a single down the first-base line. Allison Grandstrand — a player who didn’t see varsity action last spring — stepped up with an RBI bunt hit to score Hardies, and Hannah Schilling loaded the bases with a bloop hit to center. A sacrifice by Dayna Edwards scored Silva. Grandstrand and Schilling scored on a one-out single by Taylor Thompson, who scored on a triple by Haley Harms.

Three innings later, Albert Lea added two runs on a two-out two-RBI double by Grandstrand that soared over the head of Winona’s center fielder.

The Tigers finished Winona off in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single by Harms, a run on a stolen base by Thompson and an RBI single by Ezza Lopez.

In six innings of pitching, Harms struck out five batters and allowed three hits, no runs and one walk. Albert Lea never faced more than five batters in an inning.

In Game 2, an RBI single by Harms to score Thompson gave Albert Lea a 1-0 lead in the first inning, but the Tigers were held scoreless the rest of the game and struck out 10 times.

Winona tied the game in the third and added two runs in the sixth to win.

“It was a combination of us not putting the ball in play and not playing as well on defense,” coach Harms said.

Schilling took the pitching loss after six innings. She struck out one batter and allowed five hits, two earned runs and four walks.

Next, Albert Lea will play at 6 p.m. next Tuesday at Triton (1-7 overall).

After that, the Tigers have two more games left, and coach Harms said he is attempting to reschedule a game that was rained out against the Winona WinStars Blue squad.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: July 8 post.