Stretching it out: Blossoms move to within one win of state tournament on a walk-off infield single

Published 10:58 pm Tuesday, May 28, 2024

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The distance from home plate to first base is a little over 60 feet, but Blooming Prairie senior catcher Layla Lembke might as well have been running for a mile. Lembke kept her eyes peeled forward as she beat out a two-out RBI infield single to give the top-seeded Awesome Blossoms softball team a 5-4 walk-off win over No. 6 Wabasha-Kellogg in eight innings in a Section 1A semifinal game in Todd Park Tuesday.

It felt like a very big stretch,” said Lembke. “I was just thinking you’ve got to run as fast as you can and you’ve got to make it no matter what. That was crazy.”

Lembke’s hit was set up when Rachel Winzenburg reached on an error with two outs and Shawntee Snyder doubled to put runners on second and third. BP’s late rally was much needed as the Blossoms saw a 4-0 lead disappear when W-K scored two in the fourth, one in the fifth and a game-tying run in the seventh when the Falcons scored on a BP error. 

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The damage could’ve been worse, but BP threw a runner out at third in the fourth.

BP (18-4 overall) is now just one win from its first state berth since 2013, when BP won the Class A state title.

“A lot of these girls have been starting for three or four years for us. We knew we had to get out of those innings today and we were going to score eventually,” BP head coach Cam Rutledge said. “If you would’ve told me we would’ve ended up in the section championship at the beginning of the year, I probably would’ve laughed at you. But these girls had the potential and now they’re playing like it.”

BP’s early offense was lifted by junior Ella Smith who was three-for-four with two RBIs.

“At the beginning of this season, we knew we were going to have a good team, but I don’t think we thought we were going to be this good. Not to toot our own horn, but we’re feeling good,” said Smith. “I think lately we’ve had a great team dynamic and we’ve been communicating way better than we were earlier this season.”

Smith said the Blossoms have received plenty of motivation from assistant coach Shelbi Swenson, who was the standout pitcher for the BP team that won state in 2013. 

“Everybody knows Shelbi was a great pitcher, but she has insight on everything and she helps us all out in many ways,” Smith said.

Layla Lembke may have won the game with her bat, but she also played a big role behind the plate. The catcher has been instrumental in helping her second cousin Macy Lembke adjust from being a shortstop to a starting pitcher this season.

Macy allowed just three earned runs, while striking out three Tuesday.

“Having (Macy) as a pitcher makes it easy chemistry,” Layla said. “It’s nice knowing she’s there. She stepped into this pitching position, she’s done a great job and she’s definitely proven herself.”

BP will play W-K (14-10 overall) again on Thursday at 5 p.m. in Todd Park. BP needs one win to get to state and the Falcons have to win twice to advance.

Wabasha-Kellogg 000  210  10  –  4   6  3

Blooming Prairie 022  000  01  –  5  11 2

BP pitching: Macy Lembke (W) 8 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 K

BP hitting: Lembke, 1-for-5, RBI, SB; Rachel Winzeburg, 1-for-5, R; Shawntee Snyder, 2-for-4, double, R, BB; Layla Lembke, 2-for-4, RBI, R, HBP; Lilly Schammel, 2-for-3, BB; Anna Haberman, 0-for-3, R, RBI; Catelyn Bartlett, 0-for-3, RBI, R; Ella Smith, 3-for-4, 2 RBIs, R; Madelyn Harvey, 0-for-3; Addison Mongeau, 0-for-1