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OPENING MIGHT

St.?Edmond tops Riceville 8-3 in 1A regional

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla The St. Edmond softball team celebrates after Kacey Kruthoff hit a home run. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

After spotting Riceville a 3-0 lead here Monday night, St. Edmond head softball coach Nick Clark admitted there was a bit of tension in the Gael dugout.

But a quick answer, highlighted by a solo home run from Kacey Kruthoff, allowed St. Edmond to regain momentum and control in this Class 1A, Region 8 contest.

The Gaels added two runs in the fifth and one more for good measure in the sixth, advancing to a Wednesday night rematch with sixth-ranked AGWSR in Ackley by ousting the Wildcats, 8-3.

“We’ve been in every situation,” Clark said. “I knew the girls would respond. Riceville made a couple perfect plays there in the first that there wasn’t a whole lot we could do about.

“I was happy to get out of that inning 3-0, and I thought it really lifted us to do that. I knew our bats would come alive and we were able to respond with a huge inning.”

Last season, the Cougars (18-6 overall) ended St. Edmond’s (13-13) run in the regional final behind the efforts of Taryan Barrick.

Seniors Jacque Oberg, Macey Mason and Devyn Scott all drove in runs in the first, with Scott adding her second RBI of the night in the fifth. Oberg has hit safely in each of her last 12 games.

Jocy Timmerman was 2-for-4 with a run scored, Erin Flattery scored twice, and Ella Vratny struck out five and allowed just five baserunners after the opening inning.

“It all started with Erin getting that first big hit,” Clark said. “We were just off and going after that. And Kacey stepped up and gave us a little extra with that home run, which brought a lot of excitement to our team.”

Vratny struck out the side in the second and retired Riceville (10-23) in order in the third, fifth and sixth. She sat down eight in a row at one point.

“I’ve put a lot of pressure on Ella and haven’t protected her enough in games,” Clark said. “I’ve been tough on her and she just continues to do a great job of battling and controlling her emotions.

“I really can’t say enough about her ability to focus on the present.”

Flattery kick-started the big inning with a single, Timmerman followed with a double to the fence, and Oberg drove in Flattery a batter later. Mason rocked a double in her first at-bat, and Scott plated another run with a deep sacrifice fly.

Kruthoff connected for her second home run of the season and also reached base twice more on the night.

Gracie Harvey added a hit and a run scored for the Gaels, who have scored eight-plus runs seven times on the year.

AGWSR, which advanced to the state finals last year, is led by Barrick, a senior who suffered a knee injury during the offseason. She is 8-3 inside the circle with 118 strikeouts in just under 72 innings. Six different Cougar hitters have 10 or more RBI.

Sophomore Makenna Kuper leads the offense with nine homers and 22 RBI, with Rachel Sicard adding three homers and 20 RBI.

“It stunk last year losing the way we did (to AGWSR),” Clark said. “We talked that night and a ton since about getting another shot at them to see how much we have improved.

“I love our team and I love coaching this team. It’s exciting to get that opportunity.”

ST. EDMOND 8, RICEVILLE 3

Riceville 300 000 0 — 3 4 2

St. Edmond 500 021 x — 8 7 3

WP–Ella Vratny (13-11, 7 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 5 K, 2 BB). LP–Josie Gansen (6-14, 6 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 1 K, 0 BB).

HR–SE: Kacey Kruthoff. RBI–R: Kayln Jensen (2), Abby Retterath; SE: Jacque Oberg, Macey Mason, Devyn Scott (2), Kacey Kruthoff. SB–R: Madison Mauer; SE: Jacque Oberg.