Austin 16U wins sixth straight game

Published 9:44 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Austin 16U’s Haley Keifer singles in game one of a doubleheader against Owatonna Wednesday evening at Todd Park. — Eric Johnson/

Although they faced an early deficit in both games against Owatonna, the Austin 16U softball team showed how far it has come this summer.

Austin, which has now won six in a row, bounced back and won both games by lopsided scores as it won the opener 9-2 and took the nightcap 11-1 in six innings.

Abby Bickler was 4-for-4 with a double in the nightcap and she had a clutch, two-run, two-out single that pushed Austin’s lead to 6-2 in the bottom of the fourth of the opener.

Austin U16 pitcher Abbey Ball delivers against Owatonna in game one of a doubleheader Wednesday night at Todd Park.

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“I think we’ve all put a lot of time in this summer and we’re starting to believe in ourselves and each other. We’re getting results out of that,” Bickler said. “We just need to come focused, be here to win and have fun at the same time.”

Austin’s Abbey Ball struck out seven and allowed just four hits to win the opener and McKenna Gleisner allowed four hits and struck out three in the nightcap.

“Everybody’s playing better defense,” Austin head coach Lisa Quednow-Bickler said. “Then our pitchers are throwing more strikes and we have less walks. It’s exciting.”

Nine different batters had at least one hit on the day for Austin and the bottom of the order stepped up big time in the nightcap as Kallie Hart reached base in three of her four at-bats, Keisha Berg was 2-for-4 with a run and Haley Newman was 0-for-2 with an RBI, two runs and two walks.

Hart also reached base in two of her three at-bats in the opener.

“I think everyone’s encouraging everyone to do their best,” Hart said.

Austin trailed the opener 2-0 when Shaley Vesel blasted a run scoring double and Gleisner grounded out to tie it up at two in the bottom of the second. Austin took the lead for good in the third when Abbey Ball knocked in a run with a bloop single.

Austin U16 third baseman McKayla Swenson poises to gun a throw to first during game one of a doubleheader Wednesday against Owatonna at Todd Park.

Austin (20-12-1 overall) trailed the first game 1-0 but it took the lead for good in the top of the third when Sydney Murphy blooped a single to score a run and Vesel knocked in two runs with a two-out base-hit up the middle.

Austin will now play for the Southern Minny title when it hosts Albert Lea in a doubleheader Thursday at 6 p.m. in Todd Park. Austin will clinch the Conference with a split.

Quednow-Bickler said winning the conference would be big for this year’s team and the teams they will play on in the future.

“Albert Lea’s always been our rival and of course we want to beat them just for that matter,” she said. “It’s also big for our team. I think we’re building for state championships at the high school level and we’ll get there. They’re starting to believe.”

Owatonna 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 — 2 4 2

Austin 0 2 1 3 1 2 X — 9 9 2

Austin pitching: Abbey Ball (W), 7 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 2 R, 1 ER, 7 K, 1 HBP

Austin hitting: Haley Kiefer, 1-for-4, 2 R, SB; Abby Bickler, 1-for-4, 2 RBIs; Sydney Murphy, 2-for-4, 2 R, SB; Ball, 3-for-4, double, 3 RBIs; Shaley Vesel, 1-for-4, double, RBI, R; Kallie Hart, 0-for-1, R, BB, HBP, SB; McKayla Swenson, 0-for-1, SB; McKenna Gleisner, 1-for-3, RBI, R, SB; Erin Dankert, 0-for-2, R, BB; Haley Newman, R

Austin 0 0 3 2 0 5 — 11 12 1

Owatonna 1 0 0 0 0 0 — 1 4 2

Austin pitching: Gleisner (W), 6 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 ER, 3 K

Austin hitting: Kiefer, 0-for-2, R, 2 BBs; Bickler, 4-for-4, double, 2 R, SB; Murphy, 1-for-3, 2 RBIs, 2 R; Vesel, 1-for-2, RBI, R, 2 BBs; Alicia Sforza, 2-for-4, double, 2 RBIs; Hart, 1-for-2, R, HBP, BB; Keisha Berg, 2-for-4, R; Newman, 0-for-2, RBI, 2 R, 2 BBs