In the final week of the regular season, the Mayer Lutheran softball team jumped to 4-14 on the season with a sweep of a Sibley East doubleheader.
The week began in poor fashion, with a 19-0 shut out loss against Norwood Young America in five innings on May 12.
“Norwood is one of the best teams in the conference and on a rainy, cold night, things didn’t go well for us,” LHS head coach Kris Gustin said.
The Crusaders only reached base three times during the game, with senior Josie Peters on twice.
The Raiders took a commanding early lead with seven runs in the first inning and 10 in the second. Mercifully, the game was 10-run ruled after five innings.
Tuesday’s doubleheader in Watertown was slightly better, with the Crusaders losing 8-5 and 20-10 to the Royals.
In the first game, the Crusaders trailed just 6-5 in the top of the sixth inning with the bases loaded and no outs. Unfortunately for LHS, the Crusaders then hit into a triple play, “which kind of kills things,” Gustin said.
Peters carried the team at the plate, going 2-4 on the day, which included a two-run home run and three total RBIs.
In game two, “obviously we scored a lot of runs,” Gustin said, but the Royals did as well.
“We put some runs on the board, but we gave up too many runs early in the game,” Gustin said.
Those early runs included 14 to the Royals in the second inning alone. Total for the game, the Crusaders would walk 16 Royals.
“Even if you give them half of those runs, it’s a competitive game,” Gustin said.
Multiple LHS players had two or more hits, led by eighth grade Mya Chmielewski, who was 3-5 and scored two runs. Senior Krianna Boelke was 2-4 with four RBIs and fellow senior Kim Hafemann was 2-3. Peters also had two RBIs this game.
Wednesday continued the week of games, and losses, with a 12-2 loss to Belle Plaine. Gustin said the Crusaders struggled to score runs and struck out too many times. Combined with nine runs for the Tigers in the first inning, Mayer Lutheran failed to stay competitive.
Finally, Mayer Lutheran snapped its five-game losing streak Thursday afternoon. On the road at Sibley East, the Crusaders won the first game 11-5 and went on to sweep the Wolverines in the second game, winning 17-12.
Freshman Sophie Flucas returned to the field after missing most of the season recovering from a knee procedure. Flucas came back in a big way in the Sibley East doubleheader, going 3-5 at the plate with eight runs batted in and four runs scored, including a home run. Junior Cailey Benkowski also had a good set of games, going 4-7 with two RBIs and five runs scored, including a home run for her as well.
Boelke was 3-7 on the day with three RBIs and four runs scored.
Sophomore Rachel Zittergruen pitched two full games, 14 innings, for the Crusaders, while also dominating at the plate going 3-7 for three runs batted in.
The week, and the regular season, ended with a 13-1 non conference loss to New London-Spicer on Friday, May 16. Tired from the long bus ride and the lengthy week of games, the Crusaders “didn’t get off the bench,” Gustin said, giving up six runs in the first inning.
Zittergruen knocked home the Crusaders’ only run of the game on an RBI double.
With a 4-14 overall record, the Crusaders finished 2-12 in the MRC, thanks to the Sibley East sweep, which placed LHS over the Wolverines in the final conference standings.
Seeded No. 9 in the Section 2A tournament, the Crusaders played No. 8 Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart in the play in game on Tuesday, May 20. The victor immediately played No. 1 New Ulm Cathedral.
Gustin said his goal for the team headed into sections was to simply be competitive, swing the bat, and make the plays.
“Win or lose, you want to make the plays that you’re capable of making,” he said.
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