Viking defense steps up in big ways in playoff win over Knights

Published 6:39 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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The No. 4 seeded Hayfield softball team treats every postseason like a new season and the early theme for this year’s playoffs is defense.

After losing to No. 5 Kenyon-Wanamingo 17-7 on April 23, the Vikings made all of the big plays in the field as they blanked the Knights 2-0 in a Section 1A Tournament game Wednesday.

Hayfield (13-8 overall) closed the game out with its defense as sophomore Betsy Gillette robbed K-W’s Addison Lindell of an extra base hit when she made a sprinting, lunging catch at the fence to start off the seventh inning.

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I don’t think it was going over the fence, but it was really close,” said Gillette, who had a double and a run scored in the third inning. “I did not think I was going to dive, but it just happened.”

After Gillette’s catch, the next two Knights reached base and K-W (9-9 overall) had runners on second and third with one out. That’s when Hayfield’s defense turned a ground ball into a double play to end the game. 

It was the second double play turned by Hayfield in the final two innings.

“I have an amazing defense behind me at all times and I know that I can usually rest easy knowing that they always have my back, no matter the situation,” said Hayfield pitcher Elaina Masching, who struck out nine in the shutout win. “They really proved that tonight. I have no worries and I’m really lucky to have the team that I have.”

Hayfield’s sixth inning double play was turned by third baseman Alexys Swygman, who had committed an error to start the sixth.

“The big thing we’ve preached to them all year is whether you make an error or a great play, you’ve got to move on to the next play,” said Hayfield co-head coach Travis Kauffman. “Alexys Swygman is a great example. She makes an error and on the next play, she catches a line drive and throws to first base for the double play.”

Kenna Selk was two-for-three with a double and an RBI for Hayfield and Jenna Christopherson had two-out, RBI single in the fourth.

Hayfield will now take on top-seeded Blooming Prairie in a Section 1A quarterfinal in Todd Park at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The Vikings are headed into the game with some confidence as they have a bulk of their roster back from last year’s team that ended up one win short of the Class A state tournament.

“Last year helped a lot and I’ve definitely learned a lot during the offseason,” Masching said. “I’ve grown as a person.”

KW 000  000  0  –  0  5  2

Hayfield 001  100  X  –  2  6  0

Hayfield pitching: Elaina Masching (W) 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 9 K

Hayfield hitting: Kenna Selk, 2-for-3, double, RBI; Kenna Rutledge, 0-for-3; Nora Bamlet, 0-for-3; Natalie Beaver, 1-for-3; Alexys Swygman, 0-for-3, R; Melody Walker, 1-for-3; Ella Bamlet, 0-for-2; Jenna Christopherson, 1-for-2, RBI; Betsy Gillette, 1-for-2, double, R