Mayer Lutheran opened the 2014 softball season with two Minnesota River Conference games last week, losing both.
After a few hours of practice in the parking lot, the Crusaders were able to get on a dirt infield for the first time on Tuesday, April 8. Unfortunately for Mayer Lutheran, that first infield experience would also be during a game, a 7-1 loss in Belle Plaine.
Sophomore Rachel Zittergruen took the mound for the Crusaders, throwing all seven innings and pitching well for her first outing of the year, according to head coach Kris Gustin.
Gustin said the Crusaders made most of the plays they were supposed to make defensively, had a couple nice catches, and held a pretty good Tiger team to just seven runs.
“All in all for the first game of the year, we were pretty pleased,” he said.
The Crusaders were able to push one run across the plate, thanks to an RBI single from junior Cailey Benkowski.
Four Crusaders each had one hit during the game including Benkowski, senior Kim Hafemann, junior Lori Zacharias, and freshman Kate Strehlke.
Later in the week, Mayer Lutheran hosted LeSueur-Henderson in its home opener on April 10, losing an 11-0 game in five innings.
The Crusader offense struggled against LeSueur-Henderson’s sophomore pitcher Carlie Brandt.
“They have a very, very good pitcher. She threw very hard and very fast,” Gustin said, adding that the Crusaders struggled to make contact against Brandt and didn’t hit many balls out of the infield.
A few walks were the Crusaders’ only players to reach the bases.
LeSueur-Henderson opened an 8-0 lead after two innings, thanks to chain-reaction scoring fueled by Mayer Lutheran errors.
“We kind of opened the flood gates,” Gustin said.
Hafemann threw all five innings for the Crusaders in her season debut and threw fairly well, all things considered, Gustin said.
Saturday’s game against West Lutheran was cancelled when the Crusaders discovered there wouldn’t be enough girls to field a complete roster.
Next week, Mayer Lutheran heads to Norwood Young America on Tuesday for a 5 p.m. game. The Crusaders will host Belle Plaine on Thursday, April 24, before hitting the road again to Trinity School at River Ridge on Friday.
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