Clennon and Ball lift Packers

Austin third baseman Taylor Hackensmith fields a throw from home as Owatonna's Nicole Buck scampers back to the base during the first inning Tuesday at Todd Park. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

Whether they’re at the plate or in the pitching circle, Austin softball players Abbey Ball and Marie Clennon are learning to compliment each other — and it’s given the Packers a four-game winning streak.

Ball, a sophomore, picked up a win in five innings and Clennon, a senior, added a save, as the Packers beat Owatonna (3-1 overall, 3-1 Big Nine) 7-5 at Todd Park Tuesday.

Austin's Marie Clennon slides past Owatonna catcher Nicole Buck for the score in the first inning Tuesday at Todd Park. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“Abby and Marie compliment each other very well,” Austin head coach Tina Strauss said. “They each throw pitches that the other doesn’t throw and I think they’re actually quite the team together. If we can continue to work like this, it’ll be great.”

The duo, who hit back-to-back in the batting order, also provided plenty of hitting for Austin as Ball went 3-for-3 with two doubles and four RBIs on Tuesday and Clennon went 3-for-3 with one RBI.

Since the Packers (4-1 overall, 4-1 Big Nine) were no-hit in their season opener, Ball is 11-for-14 with six doubles and nine RBIs and Clennon is 10-for-13 with 7 RBIs.

“I worked hard in the offseason and I played dome ball,” Ball said. “That got my confidence up going into the season and I guess my hard work has paid off.”

While Clennon has to give up some pitching innings to her younger teammate, she doesn’t mind getting a break from throwing.

“I like having another pitcher so everything’s not on me,” Clennon said of Ball. “She’s coming around, she’s got a lot more speed this year and she’s doing amazing.”

When they’re not pitching, Ball and Clennon play shortstop, where neither of them have played until this season. But they’re getting the hang of it.

Austin's Abby Ball pitches in the first inning against Owatonna Tuesday at Todd Park. -- Eric Johnson/photodesk@austindailyherald.com

“I kind of got thrown there last game,” Clennon said. “I’ve never played they’re before but I’m working on it and I’m learning.”

The Packers took control of their game against Owatonna in the second inning when Katelyn Joseph singled in a run, Clennon singled in a run and Ball ripped a double down the left field line to make it 6-2 Austin.

“Our bats are finally coming alive and we’re putting some runs on the board,” Strauss said. “Tonight was a true test to where we stand in the conference. Owatonna’s always finished in the middle of the pack and usually they’re above us, so beating them is really a plus.”

Owatonna 1 1 0 0 3 0 0 — 5 5 0

Austin 2 4 0 1 0 0 X — 7 10 2

Austin pitching: Abbey Ball (W), 5 IP, 5 H, 3 BB, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 K; Marie Clennon (S), 2 IP, 0 R, 1 K

Austin hitting: Katelyn Joseph, 1-for-3, RBI, 2 R, BB; Laura Siegfried, 0-for-3; Clennon, 3-for-3, RBI, 2 R; Ball, 3-for-3, 2 doubles, 4 RBIs, R; Taylor Hackensmith, 1-for-3, RBI; Sydney Murphy, 0-for-2, SB, BB; Shelby Oldenkamp, 1-for-1, R, 2 BBs; Abby Bickler, 0-for-2; Kallie Hart, 1-for-3, R, SB

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