Packers continue their hot start with a shutout over Panthers

Published 8:28 pm Friday, April 5, 2024

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The Packer softball team has already matched last year’s win total and it hasn’t even gotten to Todd Park yet.

Austin won in the PackerDome for the second time this week when it blanked New Richland-HEG (0-2 overall) 4-0 Friday night.

Eighth grade hurler Kaydence Schaefer had a no-hitter through five innings and she struck out 12 in the victory.

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“I’m very excited for KJ (Schaefer). I think the more playing time she gets, the more she’s going to zone in,” Austin head coach Lisa Lage said. “She didn’t throw a changeup on Tuesday at all and she threw it tonight. It worked well for her. (Catcher) Lexie (Brede) has been calling these last two games for us and those two really communicate and work together well. They’ve worked together in fall ball, summer ball and Dome ball.”

The Packers put three runs on the board in the top of the third when Katelyn Klouse beat out an infield single, stole second and scored on a wild pitch to start the rally. Later, Austin scored two more runs on a dropped fly ball with two outs.

Brede, a sophomore, gave the Packers (2-0 overall) more life when she blasted a solo homer off the left field foul pole to lead off the fifth. The hit was initially called a foul ball, but after Lage spoke to the home plate umpire, it was called a homer.

“At first I was sad when he said it wasn’t a home run and I was hoping Lage would go out and say something,” Brede said. “I was pretty excited when it was overturned.”

Brede has served as a solid catcher for Schaefer for quite some time now and their comfort level with each other is high.

“I’ve been catching her for a couple of years now,” Brede said. “Last year I didn’t catch much on the varsity level and it’s different, but we’re getting used to it.”

Friday’s win was the first time the Packer softball team had won by a shutout since 2019 when the Packers beat Albert Lea 8-0. Schaeffer didn’t even realize she had a no-hitter going until she was told after the game. After all, she was too busy focusing on one hitter at a time.

“I just focus on my job and I don’t worry about what’s going on in the field,” Schaefer said. “I just pitch to the batter. We just have to keep playing strong as a team.”

Lage and the Packers are excited about their start, but they know there are a lot of games still ahead. The team is aiming to keep working and keep winning.

“At the end of the game we talked about the things that went well,” Lage said. “The seniors said that we only won two games last year and we’ve already won two this year, and we have the chance to compete if we keep working hard. I really appreciated them saying “if we keep working” hard. That’s key. Hopefully they’ll keep pushing themselves.”

NRHEG 0 0 0  0 0 0  0  –  0  2  3

Austin 0 0 3  0 1 0  X  –  4  3  0

Austin pitching: Kaydence Schaefer (W) 7 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 0 R, 12 K

Austin hitting: Lexie Brede, 1-for-2, HR, RBI, R, SB, BB; Avery Wempner, 0-for-3; Schaefer, 0-for-3; Quinn Osgood, 0-for-3, SB; Kathryn Crouch, 0-for-1, SB, 2 BBs; Peyton Squier, 1-for-3; Jenna Hetzel, 0-for-3; Katelyn Klouse, 1-for-2, R, SB; Charlie Cunningham, 0-for-2; Lauren Bowe, SB