Spartans hold off Tigers

Published 8:48 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hanna Schilling of Albert Lea bunts Wednesday against Rochester Mayo at Hammer Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Hanna Schilling of Albert Lea bunts Wednesday against Rochester Mayo at Hammer Field. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

With half of the Albert Lea softball team’s seniors injured, the Tigers looked to younger players for a spark on Senior Night.

Hannah Schwemmler delivered with a team-high three hits, but Rochester Mayo edged Albert Lea 8-5 Wednesday at Hammer Field.

For the first time in four games, the Tigers held an opponent to fewer than 10 runs. Pitcher Hanna Schilling struck out one batter and allowed 18 hits, six earned runs and four walks.

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“Hanna pitched well enough to win,” said Albert Lea coach Dan Harms.

The Tigers’ three uninjured seniors each made contributions. Megan Kortan was 2-for-4 with a double, Kassi Hardies was 2-for-4 with two runs scored and Taylor Thompson reached base with a walk.

Injured seniors Haley Harms, Veronica Silva and Alexa Wood watched from the dugout.

Coach Harms said the seniors played together since seventh grade and improved the program.

The last three seasons, the Tigers have a combined record of 26-35 with two more wins than the previous eight years combined. When this year’s seniors were sophomores, Albert Lea won its first postseason game in a more than a decade, and the Tigers posted two playoff wins the last two seasons. This senior group won its summer league as 14-year-olds and 18-year-olds, coach Harms said.

“We’re reaching some milestones that haven’t been done in Albert Lea softball,” he said.

In the top of the second inning, Mayo took a 3-0 lead. The Tigers fought back in the bottom of the second when a single by Schwemmler scored Kathryn Flaherty.

Albert Lea scored the equalizer in the third inning on a two-RBI double by up the middle by Meliza Lopez.

The Spartans answered with four runs in the fourth on a series of errors to take a 7-3 lead.

The Tigers cut their deficit to two runs in the fifth on Lopez’s second two-RBI double of the game.

Despite holding Mayo to one run in the last three innings, Albert Lea’s rally fell short.

Although the Tigers have the highest QRF ranking, No. 24, in Subsection 2AA South, they are the No. 4 seed. St. Peter (12-6, 9-3 Big South) is the No. 1 seed in the subsection and has a QRF ranking of No. 31.

Next, Albert Lea (8-10, 4-6 Big Nine) will host No. 5-seed Faribault Academies (9-5, 5-1 Gopher), a cooperative between Bethlehem Academy and Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf, in the subsection quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Tuesday.