Tigers softball loses another lead in late innings

Published 12:24 am Friday, April 23, 2010

Even a lineup shakeup couldn’t rouse the Albert Lea softball team from its season-long funk Thursday against Austin at Hammer Field.

Tigers head coach Dan Harms made some minor changes to the lineup and it paid off early, but Albert Lea blew another lead late as the Packers rallied for an 8-6 victory.

Harms moved Amanda Westcott up to second in the order, Claire Buendorf to fifth and Sarah Heijerman to sixth. All three had hits, including Westcott, who went 2-for-4. Heijerman drove in two runs and Albert Lea finished with 10 hits, but in the end the Tigers were left with a familiar result.

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The loss marked the sixth time the Tigers have lost a game by three runs or less and minor mistakes added up along the way.

Albert Lea took a 4-0 lead after the second inning when the Tigers took advantage of a lead-off single and two hit by pitches. Kim Nelson hit a two-run double and Kristine Kelly followed with a two-run double.

Austin rallied in the fourth and fifth to tie the game and won it in the sixth with a four-run frame.

The middle innings turned into a mistake-filled malaise for Albert Lea when the Tigers committed all four of their errors.

Two of the four errors occurred in the sixth when the Packers took the lead. A leadoff walk to Packers shortstop Katelyn Joseph and throwing error put the go-ahead run in scoring position and two batters later Sara Alms connected for an RBI single. An RBI groundout and fielding error led to two more runs to give Austin an 8-4 lead.

The Tigers rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh, but both came with two outs.

“We started out pretty good and we finish pretty good, but in the middle we have a little work to do,” Harms said. “We didn’t capitalize when we needed to with our big hitters up.”

Albert Lea left six runners stranded and failed to capitalize on some key opportunities. In the fifth inning Amanda Westcott led off with a single and got thrown out trying to steal second. One batter later Lauren Klick reached with a base hit. Courtney Schnaith, who finished 2-for-4, followed with a single and Klick tried to score, but got thrown out at the plate.

Lana Howe gave up eight runs, five earned, on nine hits, walked three and struck out 10 in the loss.

The Tigers play against Rochester Century Tuesday in Rochester.

Austin 8, Albert Lea 6

Austin 000 224 0 — 8 9 1

Albert Lea 040 000 2 — 6 10 4

WP—Marie Clennon 7 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K

LP—Lana Howe 7 IP, 9 H, 8 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 10 K