Tigers beat Wingers in season opener

Published 10:02 am Thursday, April 9, 2015

Albert Lea erases 1st-inning deficit in top of 2nd, leads rest of the game

For the second straight season, the Albert Lea softball team won its season opener.

Haley Harms was 4-of-4 at the plate and only allowed five runs from the pitching circle as the Tigers won 11-5 Wednesday at Red Wing.

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“I felt that if we played to our ability with good defense, pitching and catching that we could handle Red Wing,” said Albert Lea coach Dan Harms. “I’m happy to open the season with a (win).”

In the Tigers’ opener last year at Owatonna, the game was tied headed into the seventh inning before a grand slam by Kassi Hardies lifted the Tigers 7-2.

This year, Albert Lea had more breathing room.

Aside from scoring more runs, the Tigers had two errors compared to five for the Wingers.

Red Wing took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. However, Albert Lea scored three runs in the top of the second and never trailed from that point.

Five runs in the top of the fourth gave the Tigers an 8-1 lead, and neither team gained ground in the final three innings.

The top five batters in Albert Lea’s order each had at least one hit. Taylor Thompson led off by going 3-of-5 with a double and run scored. Harms was perfect at the plate with two runs scored and a walk, and Megan Kortan was 1-of-3 with two runs scored and a walk.

“That’s a great one-two-three punch,” coach Harms said.

In the fourth spot was junior third baseman Allison Grandstrand, who coach Harms said excelled while playing summer softball.

“She’s new to the varsity, and she swings the bat well,” he said. “She’s pretty powerful, and she put the ball in play every time.”

Hardies was 2-for-4 in the fifth slot. Hanna Schilling scored a team-high three runs on one hit as the sixth batter in the order.

Harms faced 31 batters, struck out four batters and allowed 11 hits and one walk.

Last season, Albert Lea was 11-13 with a 2-2 postseason record; Red Wing was 7-11. The Wingers’ only postseason game was a 15-7 loss against Owatonna.

This is Red Wing and Northfield’s first season in the Big Nine Conference.

Next, Albert Lea (1-0, 1-0 Big Nine) will host Rochester Century at 5 p.m. today. The Tigers swept the Panthers with 7-8 and 8-7 wins last season.

“I don’t see why we couldn’t beat them with the players we have back this year,” coach Harms said.