Loyola girls softball defeats St. Clair in season opener

Kayla Gross gave up 3 hits and struck out 7 against St. Clair in the first game of the season.

Kayla Gross gave up 3 hits and struck out 7 against St. Clair in the first game of the season.

By Joe Steck – Mankato Times

MANKATO, MINN. — The Mankato Loyola girls softball team started out the 2016 campaign with a 12 – 2 victory over St. Clair in Mankato.

Kayla Gross tossed a three hitter, striking out seven and giving up two unearned runs in six innings.

“I was a little nervous because this was the first game of the year. I knew I had to keep the ball down because they have some good hitters,” said Gross “I relied on my defense throughout the game and they finished it out for me to give us the win.”

Gross is a junior, but is already looking towards her future.

“My favorite class is psychology and I am looking at attending UMD and maybe working in forensic science,” she said “On the field I am hoping we have a successful season and can make it to state again.”

Loyola Head Coach Kari Koester waving in Alli Menke and Ellie Hoffmann in the 5th inning.

Loyola Head Coach Kari Koester waving in Alli Menke and Ellie Hoffmann in the 5th inning.

Loyola took a 2-0 lead in the first when Gross hit a two run dinger, driving in Ester Archer for the early lead.

Gross started the second inning by striking out Claire Anderson and then gave up a bunt single to Joci Hanson, who then stole second. Dani Lynch was walked and the runners advanced after Amy Groskreutz hit into a fielders choice.  Danielle Boettche struck out and Cassidy Anderegg drove in Hanson and Lynch after an error by Loyola. Katelyn Karels popped out to second base to end the inning.

The Crusaders took the lead for good in the top of the second when Sarah Haugum crossed the plate after hitting a single.

Loyola added one run in the third inning with Kenady Benning walked to start out the inning. Allie Menke her followed up with a single to center field and Ellie Hoffmann drove Benning home.

Loyola’s big inning came in the 5th when they hit around the order with Menke, Hoffmann, Kenna Elert, Sarah Haugum, Ester Archer and Jenna Helget all scoring. Helget hit a monster shot over the left field fence for the final score in the inning.

Jenna Helget rounding third after hitting a 2 run homer in the 5th.

Jenna Helget rounding third after hitting a 2 run homer in the 5th.

Elert and Haugum scored in the 6th to give Loyola the 12-2 victory.

Loyola Head Coach Kari Koester was happy with the win.

“It was nice to get a game under out belt. The sun was out and the girls came to play,” said Coach Koester “For the first game outside we had a very good effort.”

The Coach continued “Kayla pitched a nice game and threw strikes when she needed them. Helget caught and played a good game throwing out a runner and hitting well.”

It was nice to see St. Clair head coach David Makela back on the field after having open heart surgery several months ago.

Loyola (1-0) will host Blooming Prairie on Thursday with a scheduled 5:00 pm start while St. Clair looks to play a three game series on Saturday.

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