Packers have some hitters too

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 16, 2003

The bad news for the Austin softball team is that Amy Kelly is human after all. The good news is that the Packer offense was able to pick up the slack Tuesday, using some clutch hitting to pass their first real test of the season with a come-from-behind 4-3 win in extra innings over visiting Winona.

"A game like this'll help us learn to deal with pressure," said AHS head coach Todd Waterbury, "and it says a lot about the character of this team that we were able to work through an off day."

"It was good, competitive softball game today," said Winona head coach Dave Heise, "although the wind and the hard infield made it difficult for the fielders out there."

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Both Kelly and her counterpart Amanda Braatz looked vulnerable the first time through the order. Kylene Erstad led off the Austin half of the first with a single, but the Packers were unable to get her past second base.

In the second, Nicole Turvey and Lauren Goettsch both reached on soft singles up the middle, but Turvey was cut down at the plate on a Meggan Rider grounder to short. Stephanie Sundberg hit another ball to the shortstop with two outs, but was thrown out at first on a bang-bang play, leaving Austin scoreless.

Winona's leadoff hitter Leigh Rodgers began the game with a single, but Kelly and catcher Keri Feller executed a perfect strike 'em out, throw 'em out double play to take her off the basepaths. The Winhawks got their leadoff hitter in the second also, but Kelly registered another strikeout and snagged a line drive to strand the runner at second.

Winona finally broke through in the next inning, thanks to two Austin errors. A misplayed flyball and a booted grounder put runners on first and third with only one out. Shannon Wing delivered a sacrifice fly that put the Winhawks up 1-0.

The Packers answered right back in the bottom half of the inning. Erstad led off with another single, and after being sacrificed to second, Feller delivered an RBI single to tie the game.

Kelly got into trouble again in the 5th, allowing a leadoff double to Stephanie Infield. A dink by Rodgers barely made it past Erstad at second, giving the Winhawks a first and third, one out situation. It looked like Kelly would make it out of trouble again after she dispatched Sarina Van Brunt on a nasty changeup, but Wing delivered yet again with a single to center to bring home Infield. A slight bobble by Sundberg as she was fielding the ball allowed Rodgers to score as well for a 3-1 Winona lead.

Like the veteran team they are, Austin responded in the sixth. Kelly began the rally with a one-out single. Her batterymate Feller followed with a triple over the head of the right fielder that ignited the Austin bench.

"That triple really got us going," said Steph Eslinger, "but it meant that I had to go up there and live up to what Amy and Keri did."

Eslinger was up to the challenge, blasting a double into right-center field that tied it at 3-all.

Both pitchers settled down as the game went into extra innings, until Turvey drew a walk to lead off the Austin ninth inning. After pinch-hitter Angie Rohne grounded into a fielder's choice, Lauren Goettsch came back into the game to run for her.

A passed ball moved Goettsch into scoring position for Rider. As it had on the day before, the bottom of the Packer order came through again Tuesday, as Rider hit a solid single to center to win it.

"I was looking for my pitch, just trying to make contact, and she threw it right down the middle," said Rider of her game-winning hit. "It was pretty exciting to contribute to the team like that."

"We played a sloppy game in the field, which I think was because we were trying to do too much, but we did hit the ball well today," said Waterbury.

"They had a lot of good hitters, which we hadn't really expected, but they're definitely a good team," Eslinger said of the Winhawks, who drop to 0-1 despite playing error-free defense as well.

Austin improves to 4-0 overall and in Big Nine Conference play heading into Thursday's trip to Rochester to take on Century.

Notes: Amy Kelly will be signing her national letter of intent this afternoon at 3:15 p.m. in the lobby outside Ove Berven Gym to play at the University of Minnesota at Duluth.




Rodgers ss4220Erstad 2b4120

Van Brunt 2b3000Jurgensen ss2000

Wing 3b3012Kelly p4110

Cichosz 1b4000Feller c4022

Degnan c4010 Brady cr0100

Waterbury rf4000Eslinger 3b4011

Rader lf3000Turvey 1b2010

Infield cf4120Goettsch dh2110

Brown pr0000 White ph1000

Glenna dh4000 Rohne ph0000

Rider rf4011

Sundberg lf3010




One out when winning run scored.

2B--Eslinger, Infield. 3B--Feller. CS--Rodgers, Brady. S--Jurgensen 2, Rader, Turvey. SF--Wing.



Braatz L8 1/3104411


Kelly W, 4-0963216

PB--Degnan 3.