Packers tame rival Albert Lea
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 24, 2002
The Austin High softball team pounded out two more games of double-digit hits and subsequently won a pair of Big Nine Conference games Tuesday night at Albert Lea.
The Packers (6-1, 6-1) swept a league doubleheader against the rival Tigers, 8-1 and 10-5, behind a strong first game and a somewhat shaky second game, but picked up two wins nonetheless. The victories arrange a showdown with Mankato West (7-0) Thursday for the top spot in the Big Nine Conference standings. Austin hosts the Scarlets at 5 p.m. at Todd Park.
"It's a very important game in conference," Austin coach Todd Waterbury said of Thursday's pairing. "For a game at this point of the season, it's as big as it can get."
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Austin stayed close behind with a pair of convincing wins over host Albert Lea. Amy Kelly surrendered her first earned run of the season, but the Packer defense did not wilt behind her. Albert Lea had just four hits in the first game, scoring its lone run in the fifth inning.
The Pack jumped out to a 5-0 lead after two innings. Keri Feller was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the first, and Nicole Turvey followed with an RBI-single to score Kylene Erstad with what would prove to be the game-winning run.
Erstad added a two-run double in the second inning, scoring Meggan Rider and Betsy Hingeveld, and Kelly followed with a double to plate Erstad.
Steph Sundberg and Turvey added RBIs in the two-run fourth. Kelly struck out seven, walked one, and allowed four Tiger hits. Austin had 13 hits, led by Kelly's 3-5 effort. Erstad, Turvey and Rider had two hits.
"We got off to a good start," Coach Waterbury said. "I'd say that it gave us a lot of confidence for the second game. We felt pretty good that we could get the job done (in the nightcap)."
Austin took a 7-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth inning before Hingeveld -- the starting pitcher in the second game -- got rattled for four runs. Albert Lea moved to within 7-5, but the Packer bats forced the Tigers to give way in the top of the sixth.
Albert Lea committed five errors in the second game, including three in Austin's three-run sixth. The Packers were glad to accept three walks in the inning as well, adding cushion to their lead.
Hingeveld -- in addition to going 2-4 at the plate with a double, an RBI and two runs scored -- picked up her first pitching victory of the season. Hingeveld went five innings for the win, allowing eight hits, five runs, four earned, three walks and four strikeouts.
Kelly tossed the final two innings, preserving the lead with two strikeouts and only one hit allowed.
Steph Eslinger slammed the season's first home run, driving in Austin's two runs in the third inning for a 3-0 lead. With Kelly on with a single, Eslinger lifted a line-drive over the fence into the wind in left.
Albert Lea had nine hits in the nightcap to Austin's 11. The Packers were handed eight total walks and five unearned runs.
Eslinger led the hitting charge with three hits and three RBIs, while Chelsea McColley, Hingeveld and Erstad had two hits apiece.
Call Ross Thede at 434-2234 or e-mail him at :mailto:email@example.com.
WP--Kelly (5-1). LP--Rofdal. 2B--Kelly, Erstad.
WP--Hingeveld (1-0). LP--Rofdal. 2B--Hingeveld, Jacobs (Alb). HR--Eslinger (1).