Home runs lift Tigers past Rockets

Published 4:49 am Friday, April 24, 2015

Multiple home runs propelled the Albert Lea softball team to its first win over Rochester John Marshall since the 2009-10 season.

Allison Grandstrand hit two homers — including a grand slam in the fourth inning — and Megan Kortan added a two-run shot in the fifth to launch the Tigers over the Rockets 17-9 Thursday at Rochester.

“We just started crushing it,” said Albert Lea coach Dan Harms. “It was one of the most incredible games that I’ve ever been a part of.”

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The top five batters in the Tigers’ order produced 15 hits.

Grandstrand led the team by going 4-for-5. She drove in seven runs and scored three.

“She just lit it up tonight,” coach Harms said.

Kortan and Haley Harms were 3-for-4 and scored four runs each. Kassi Hardies was 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, and lead-off batter Taylor Thompson posted two hits.

Although Albert Lea won by more than twice as many runs as the team produced Wednesday at home against Austin, the Tigers started slow.

The Rockets took a 7-2 lead in the bottom of the first. Coach Harms said he called the pitches from the dugout in the first inning but decided to hand over the reins to pitcher Haley Harms.

“We made that adjustment, and it worked really well,” he said.

Harms faced 35 batters, struck out five and allowed 14 hits and six earned runs.

In the top of the third, Albert Lea cut its deficit to one run, 7-6.

After John Marshall responded with two runs in the bottom of the inning, the Tigers took their first lead in the top of the fourth. Hanna Schilling led off with a single. Thompson hit a double, and Harms set up Grandstrand’s grand slam by loading the bases with a single.

Albert Lea took the momentum and didn’t allow another run the rest of the game.

Before the Rockets ended the top of the fourth, the Tigers scored two more runs. Kassi Hardies crossed home plate, and Dayna Edwards stole home on a passed ball.

“She’s so far beyond her years as a ninth grader,” coach Harms said about Edwards.

In the top of the fifth, Kortan crushed a two-run homer to right center to score Harms and give Albert Lea a five-run lead.

Grandstrand hit her second homer in the top of the seventh, and the Tigers added three more runs.

“That home run cleared the fence by 20 or 30 feet, and that’s a tall fence,” coach Harms said.

After a 6-3 home loss against Austin, coach Harms said he was happy the team rebounded.

“I was very impressed with their effort after last night,” he said. “After that first inning, they could’ve easily folded up shop. J.M. was hitting the ball all over the place, but they didn’t hang their heads.”

Albert Lea (6-3, 4-3 Big Nine) has won four of its last five games. John Marshall (3-5, 2-5 Big Nine) lost its second straight.

Next, Albert Lea will host Faribault at 5 p.m. Tuesday.