Packers get serious revenge
Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 11, 2002
The Austin defense did not make every play behind pitcher Amy Kelly, but they made the plays they needed to the most to exact revenge with an 8-0 win over Winona Friday night at Todd Park.
Kelly struck out nine, scattered three hits, and broke out of a mini-slump at the plate with what proved to be the game-winning RBI in the bottom of the first inning. Winona threatened with a leadoff single and an error in the first, but Kelly quickly quelled the Winhawks' opportunity with three straight strikeouts and the game-winning hit in the bottom half.
Leadoff hitter Kylene Erstad singled to start the Packers' half of the first, and two outs later Kelly laced a line-drive past the center fielder. Erstad scored easily and Kelly motored around the bases after Winona center fielder Stephanie Infield raised her arms to signal a ground-rule double.
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"I didn't know what was going on, so I just kept running," Kelly said.
Field umpire Don Stillwell raced into center to make the call -- signaling a home run -- that brought Winona coach Dave Heise from his seat in the dugout.
"How many players would do that (signal a ground-rule double) if it wasn't," Heise said after the game. "But it doesn't matter because we didn't score and they did."
Kelly proceeded to strike out the side in the second before Winona assembled a threat in the fourth. Shannon Wing doubled to right center, moved safely to third on a fielder's choice grounder to Erstad, but was thrown out trying to score on Stacey Cichosz's grounder to Nicole Turvey at first. Turvey fired home in time to Keri Feller, who applied the tag on Wing and sent the ball down to second where Kat O'Brien had strayed too far from the bag. Austin shortstop Steph Eslinger made the tag on the inning-ending double play.
"That fired us up bigtime," said Austin coach Todd Waterbury. "That play was the most satisfying to me because there was no thinking about it, it was all instinct."
Winona (9-8, 8-6) moved only one more baserunner to second through the final three innings, and Austin (14-3, 13-2) secured itself tied for the top spot in the Big Nine with a six-run outburst in the bottom of the fifth.
Betsy Hingeveld, Chelsea McColley and Kelly all collected RBIs, and Eslinger drove in two more with a two-out double over the left fielder's head.
Austin had just one hit off Leigh Rodgers in the two teams' first meeting, a 1-0 Winhawk victory in the Packers' third game of the season. Austin tallied five hits off Cichosz and hit the ball hard into the field of play on a number of other occasions.
"That was a big goal of ours," Coach Waterbury said. "Last time we hit the ball hard too, but they made a lot of nice plays. Tonight, if it found a hole or not, we hit it hard."
The Packers stranded just two runners on base -- their season low -- in taking advantage of the opportunities presented them.
"I think we had better pitch selection," Kelly suggested. "It was just an all-around good game. The defense played awesome and made they plays when we needed them to."
The Packers play at Rochester Century Tuesday night at 5 p.m., and finish the regular season on the road at Mankato West Friday at 4 p.m.
Call Ross Thede at 434-2234 or e-mail him at :mailto:email@example.com.