Good start turns ugly for Albert Lea softball

Published 12:52 am Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Albert Lea softball team’s day went from good to bad to ugly Saturday at the New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva softball tournament.

The good was the Tigers got their first victory of the season to start the day when they beat St. Clair 5-2, but things got bad in the next game against Kasson-Mantorville in a rematch of last year’s championship game and they got ugly against NRHEG in the third-place game.

Albert Lea starter Lana Howe threw five innings, allowed two hits, and struck out nine against St. Clair in the 5-2 victory as the Tigers won their first game of the season.

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But that was the end of the good news for the Albert Lea, which dropped its next two games.

Howe and Komets starter Maddie Damon engaged in a pitcher’s duel through seven innings with Howe recording 10 strikeouts and Damon 13. Howe gave up just five hits and Damon two.

Kasson-Mantorville scored the game’s only run in the eighth inning when the game was played under the international tiebreaker. The international tiebreaker puts the last player who batted in the previous inning on second base to start the new inning.

The Komets executed a sacrifice bunt to advance the runner to third and scored the game-winning run on a groundout. Kasson-Mantorville eventually captured the tournament title by beating Rochester Lourdes 3-2 in the championship game.

The Tigers got their chance in the bottom of the eighth, but failed to lay down a bunt and struck out and popped up to end the game.

Then the ugly came against the Panthers in the third-place game when Albert Lea (1-5) staked itself to a 7-0 lead, only to squander the lead in the final three innings in a 10-9 loss.

The Tigers held a 9-4 lead entering the bottom of the sixth inning, but the Panthers scored six runs to take the lead and win the game.

“I think, again, it boils down to focussing for seven innings,” said Albert Lea head coach Dan Harms.

After going 3-0 last season at the tournament, the Tigers went 1-2 and left more doubts as to whether they can close out games and compete.

NRHEG senior Kate Quam hit a two-run homer in the fourth and junior Kacie Phillips finished 3-for-4.

The Panthers (2-3) reached the third-place game with an 8-3 victory against Alden-Conger, but fell 17-7 in six innings to Lourdes in the semifinals.

Eighth-grader Jade Schultz pitched all but one inning for NRHEG and had 16 strikeouts in three games.

Alden-Conger took fifth after beating St. Clair in the consolation game and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown beat Glenville-Emmons in the seventh-place game.