AHS tops JM softball

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 30, 2003

After winning the Elks Invitational over the weekend, the third-ranked Austin softball team stepped back into Big Nine Conference play Tuesday with little trouble.

The Packers overcame a brief hiccup in the sixth ining to pound Rochester John Marshall 11-3 at Todd Park thanks to a season-high 18 hits.

"You've got to be excited about what we're doing with the bats," said AHS head coach Todd Waterbury. "It's a continuation of what we were able to do in the tournament, and hopefully the depth of our lineup one through nine continues to be a strength for us down the home stretch."

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Despite the lopsided final score, the Rockets almost got the first run across thanks to Amanda Severson's two-out double in the first inning. But she was promptly caught leaning off second by catcher Keri Feller to end the inning.

"A defensive play can be a spark too, not just offensive ones," Waterbury said. "We're fortunate to have such a talented catcher back there."

Austin used this momentum to strike for three runs in the next inning, although some shoddy fielding by the Rockets did not hurt either.

The Packers got it going again in the third when ace Amy Kelly was hit in the ribs with a pitch to lead things off.

A throwing error by the right fielder on Feller's single put both runners in scoring position with no one out. A wild pitch and an Eslinger single brought both runners home to up the lead to 5-0.

In the fourth, Kylene Erstad's single and another Rocket error set the stage for another Eslinger RBI hit. They almost had another but Kelly was thrown out at home in a rare baserunning appearance for her.

"He (Waterbury) never lets me run, so I kind of slid in there wrong," Kelly said.

"He probably isn't going to let me run again now," she joked.

With the Packers hitting line drive after line drive off of JM starter Becky Graf, Kelly began to settle into a groove, striking out the side in the fourth and retiring the Rockets in order in the fifth.

Kelly put together another impressive outing to stay perfect on the season at 11-0. She allowed only four hits and struck out eight, with all three of her runs unearned.

Offensively, Eslinger led Austin with a 3-for-4 day, driving in four runs and scoring two. Feller also had three hits, with her courtesy runner Lauren Goettsch scoring three runs in her stead.

John Marshall remains in third place in the Big Nine, dropping to 5-3 and 7-4 overall.

Austin improves to 12-0, 9-0. They finish off their homestand this Thursday against Faribault.