West softball advances to section finals

Kenzie Grunst about to celebrate with teammates after hitting a solo shot to deep center in the 5th inning against New Ulm in the Section 2AAA semi-finals.

By Joe Steck – Mankato Times

NORTH MANKATO, MINN. — The third time was a charm for the Mankato West High School softball team as they defeated New Ulm High School 17-6 in the Section 2AAA semi-finals Wednesday at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

With the win, West improves to 17-6 on the season and will play Faribault (19-1) today at 5 p.m. in the championship round of the tournament at Caswell Park. Faribault, the Big 9 champions, defeated West earlier in the season 2-0. The Scarlets must win twice to go to state.

The Eagles defeated the Scarlets twice this year, including last Thursday in the second round of the tournament. It looked like it could be another defeat for the Scarlets as their bats were cold to start the game and the Eagles took an early 3-0 lead.

The Eagles scored three runs in the bottom of the third inning off of four hits. Carli Botten knocked in two run with a double and later scored on a bunt by Kaila Brudelie.

Ashlyn Donner kept the Scarlets bats quiet through four innings before the team exploded in the fifth. Bri Stoltzman singled and courtesy runner Liz Meidl made her way to third after two wild pitched.

West scored eight runs in the fifth inning off of seven hits. Jalissa Stoltzman hit a two-run triple, Bri Stoltzman had two hits in the inning including a two-RBI single and Emma Young drove in a run off a base hit. Kenzie Grunst hammered a solo homer to deep center and the Scarlets left the inning with an 8-3 lead.

Briggs Carlson beats a throw home in the 5th inning against New Ulm.

Briggs Carlson started the game for the win and was relieved by Kayla Grunst in the fifth inning.

The Eagles fought back, picking up three runs in the bottom of the fifth with Ellie Bute, Joey Batt and Brudelie crossing the plate and narrowing the lead 8-6.

The Scarlets scored nine more times in the sixth inning. Jalissa Stoltzman connected with a three-run home run to go up 11-6. West got another run after a throwing error made it 12-6 and a two-run single by Young made it 14-6. Holly Wiste added another two-run double for the 16-6 margin and West scored again for the final run of the game.

Grunst was able to shut down New Ulm in the bottom half of the 6th to give West the 17-6 win.

This is the second straight year the Scarlets have ended the Eagles softball season. Last year West defeated New Ulm in the Section championship.

The Scarlets scored 17 runs on 12 hits, leaving 3 runners on base and 1 fielding error. The Eagles finished the game with 6 runs on 7 hits, leaving 5 runners on base and committing 6 errors.

You can see more photos from the game on the Mankato Times Facebook page.

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