Gallery: Albert Lea softball falls against Rochester Mayo

Published 7:11 pm Thursday, April 17, 2014

Haley Harms of Albert Lea swings at a pitch Thursday at home against Rochester Mayo. Kortan was 1-for-4 in the batter's box. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Haley Harms of Albert Lea swings at a pitch Thursday at home against Rochester Mayo. Kortan was 1-for-4 in the batter’s box. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Timely hits proved to be the difference on the softball diamond Tuesday at Albert Lea.

Albert Lea and Rochester Mayo each had seven hits, but the Spartans were able to cash in at opportune times to defeat the Tigers 6-0.

“They put the ball in play a little better than we did, which put pressure on our defense,” said Albert Lea coach Dan Harms.

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The Tigers found themselves in a hole in the top of the first inning. After Mayo’s lead-off batter made a base hit, she stole second and third and was in scoring position with no outs. The top of the inning resulted in a pair of Spartan runs.

The bottom of the first was a microcosm of the game for the Tigers. Taylor Thompson reached first base with a lead-off hit.

Thompson led the Tigers by going 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base. She also excelled in left field by making multiple grabs near the warning track.

“If we had an MVP of the game, it was Taylor,” coach Harms said. “She had a stellar game out there on offense and defense.”

However, the batter’s box was unfriendly to the rest of Albert Lea’s lineup. After the next three Tigers struck out, the inning was over.

Albert Lea struck out 11 times, and Mayo never struck out.

With one out and a runner on third base in the top of the third, the Spartans extended their lead to three runs with a bunt that scored one run.

The fourth inning gave Mayo even more momentum. A solid start made it even more draining for the Tigers. Albert Lea was one pitch away from getting out of the inning unscathed. Tigers pitcher Haley Harms was set up with a full count, two outs and runners on first and second. Mayo’s batter drove the ball deep to left field, over Thompson’s head and into the fence. Two Spartan base runners scored and the batter scored on an interference call.

Neither team scored in the final three innings.

Harms went the distance in the pitching circle. She faced 26 batters, gave up seven hits, six runs, five earned runs, one walk and had no strikeouts.

Katie Aldrich earned the pitching win for Mayo. She faced 20 batters and gave up four hits and one walk and had eight strikeouts. Sarah Lisko entered the game in relief for the final two innings.

Thompson was Albert Lea’s only batter to get multiple hits. Harms, Lynzee Underdahl, Haley Schroader and Veronica Silva added one hit each.

After the Tigers exploded with two home runs — including a grand slam by Kassi Hardies in the season opener — they’ve scored four total runs in the last two games.

“We need to hit the ball better,” coach Harms said. “Last week, we really worked on a lot of defensive things, and we didn’t’ hit a lot. Tomorrow’s practice is all offense.”

The Tigers have one day to train before playing at 11 a.m. Saturday against Byron at the St. Clair Tournament. Last year, the tournament was rained out, and two years ago, the Tigers were tourney champs, coach Harms said.

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: April 17 post.