Albert Lea advances past Waseca

Published 6:36 pm Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Megan Kortan of Albert Lea tags a Waseca baserunner Tuesday at Waseca during the first round of the Section 2AA playoffs. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Megan Kortan of Albert Lea tags a Waseca baserunner Tuesday at Waseca during the Subsection 2AA South quarterfinals. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

WASECA — After the momentum swung in Waseca’s favor, the Albert Lea softball team came alive in the batters box with two outs in the top of the sixth inning.

With the score tied at six, Haley Harms hit a single. Taylor Thompson, a double. Lynzee Underdahl was intentionally walked, and Kassi Hardies stepped to the plate with the bases loaded.

“I was really excited because I knew we needed the runs, and I wanted to show that I could actually deal with the pressure,” Hardies said.

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During the regular season, she showed poise in the same situation. In the season opener at Owatonna, Hardies hit a grand slam in the top of the seventh to break a 2-2 stalemate and lead the Tigers to a 7-2 win.

Against Waseca, she came through again. Her shot to center field bounced off the fence and drove in three runs to give Albert Lea the momentum back. Before that, Waseca was in control. The Blue Jays rallied from a five-run deficit the previous inning to tie the game with a three-run homer.

Caycee Gilbertson followed Hardies’ hit with a 3-run shot over the scoreboard in center field to propel Albert Lea to a win in the first round of the postseason for the second straight year.

“That’s one heck of a two-out rally right there,” said Albert Lea coach Dan Harms.

The Tigers beat Waseca 12-6 Tuesday in the Subsection 2AA south quarterfinals.

“They have a never-say-die attitude,” coach Harms said about his team’s performance in the latter innings. “It was a little tense after that three-run home run to tie it up, but the girls responded well and kept their composure.”

Albert Lea’s bats were on fire most of the game. The Tigers produced 16 hits. Haley Harms, Taylor Thompson and Caycee Gilbertson led the way with three hits each.

“I’m always telling them that we can hit,” coach Harms said. “There’s nobody in this section that we’re afraid to face. We play a tough Big Nine schedule, so we should hit like that.”

Before Waseca rallied to tie the game in the fifth inning, the Tigers built a 6-1 lead with one run in the first, one in the second and four in the third.

The win avenged a 6-1 loss during the regular season against the Blue Jays at Albert Lea.

Next, the Tigers (10-11 overall, 8-9 Big Nine Conference) will play at 5 p.m. Thursday at NRHEG (13-6 overall, 6-1 Gopher Conference). Albert Lea is the No. 5 seed in the subsection, and the Panthers are the No. 1 seed. NRHEG is coming off an 8-0 win over No. 8-seed Blue Earth in the quarterfinals.

“We’ve got five seniors who don’t want their season to end,” coach Harms said. “We’ve been telling them to keep their season going in Mankato (at the subsection finals). That’s the goal.”

Statistics are in the Scoreboard: May 20 post.