Blossoms are ready for state softball tournament

Published 12:38 am Wednesday, June 8, 2011

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — The Awesome Blossoms don’t know a lot about their first round opponent at the Class ‘A’ state softball tournament, which begins at Caswell Park in Mankato Thursday at 1 p.m., but that may not be a bad thing.

While BP (20-1 overall) has tried to get information on their first round opponent Badger/Greenbush-Middle River (22-3 overall), they haven’t found much yet.

“It’s possible we’re going to go in blind,” BP head coach Ali Mach said. “The biggest thing is we have to be ready to play and I think we’re playing pretty well at the end of the year. That will be helpful.”

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The Blossoms do know that BGM is similar to them in that they went to state last year, where they finished third, and they bring back a lot of their team from last season. BP also knows the Gators can hit as they’ve put up at least 10 runs 15 times this season.

BP starting pitcher Erica Manske is not intimidated by the Gators as she has gone through five postseason games and allowed just two earned runs.

“It’s good to face good hitters,” Manske said. “In summer softball, every hitter in the lineup is (tough), it’s a challenge and it’s fun to play other good teams.”

Last season BP lost both of its contests in its first ever appearance at the state tournament. This time around, the Blossoms know what to expect and they’d like to come home with at least one win under their belts.

“There’s a lot more pressure. We have a lot of high expectations and we want to win some games this time,” BP second baseman Jenna Krell, who was a courtesy runner on last year’s team, said.

Krell has helped BP in two key categories this season. She’s helped solidify a defense that is making big plays behind Manske and she’s part of the bottom portion of the order that has started plenty of scoring rallies for the Blossoms this season.

“Defense is one of the most important things and we take pride in always making plays,” Krell said. “(Hitting from the bottom) is one of our stronger points. I think it’s scary for other teams to go against an order that’s strong top to bottom and that’s what we have.”

Mach said that it’s been tough to wait a week to get the ball rolling, but she’s found ways to keep the team loose. On Tuesday, the Blossoms were set to scrimmage with alumni.

“We have a better idea of what to expect at state and I think the girls are loose and ready to go,” Mach said.

Still, the Blossoms aren’t about to overlook anyone at the state tournament.

“They have the same experience as us and we don’t expect anything to be easy and it shouldn’t be at that level,” Mach said. “You’ve got the top eight teams and everyone’s pushing, so you can’t afford to make mistakes.”

For Manske, it’ll be the last time her and fellow seniors Tayla Jones and Sidni Olson take the field together.

“It’ll be sad when we’re done, but we’ve had a good season. We should be proud of what we’ve done so far,” Manske said.

The Blossoms will play their second game at state at 7 p.m.