Crusaders earn No. 4 seed for section tournament

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The Mayer Lutheran softball team earned a No. 4 seed in the section tournament, getting a home game to start the playoff on Thursday. The Crusaders open the Section 4A Tournament by taking on No. 13 Chesterton Academy May 18 in New Germany, with the winner taking on either No. 5 Heritage Christian Academy or No. 12 Legacy Christian Academy May 20 in Ramsey,

The Crusaders head into the final week of the season with a 12-5 record, 4-2 in section play.

“We feel like we are in pretty good shape,” coach Kris Gustin said.

Mayer Lutheran 2 Belle Plaine 11

The Crusaders took a tough loss when hosting Belle Plaine May 9, falling 11-2 in the conference matchup.

“It was one of those games where the ball didn’t seem to bounce our way,” Gustin said.

The Crusaders held the Tigers scoreless for the first two innings, but errors turned into runs in the third and fourth inning when Belle Plaine ran out to an 8-0 lead. In total, Mayer Lutheran gave up 11 runs, but only two were earned as seven errors led to the win for the Tigers.

Belle Plaine hit the ball well, tallying 10 hits. While the Crusaders had good contact, they were unable to find the gaps and were limited to a pair of hits.

“We hit it hard too, just right at them,” Gustin said.

Mayer Lutheran finally found pay dirt in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring two runs. Tina Saulsbury led off with a single, then moved to second on a wild pitch. Anna Baumann stepped up and scored Saulsbury on a single, later moving to third on an error before scoring on a sacrifice fly from Riley Corrigan.

While errors from Mayer Lutheran led to the loss, there were some good defensive plays from the Crusaders. In the second inning, a Belle Plaine base runner tried to catch Mayer Lutheran off guard by advancing from first to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Kate Strehlke came in from the outfield to halt the runner’s attempt to get to third, tagging her out to finish off a double play. In the seventh inning, Symone Jopp made a diving catch to get the final out, giving the Crusaders a boost.

“Our outfielders don’t get a lot of balls because Tina pitches ground balls, but when they do, they seem to make plays,” Gustin said.

Mayer Lutheran 1 Jordan 5

Once again, the Crusaders put the bat on the ball but couldn’t find the gaps in a 5-1 loss to Jordan May 11.

“They put the balls in the spots, and we seemed to hit it right at them,” Gustin said.

Mayer Lutheran was limited to three hits, but managed a run in the first inning. Mya Chmielewski singled in her first at bat, then stole second before reaching third on an error. Sophie Flucas then drove her in with a single to center.

The Jaguars would later add five runs, taking the lead and the win.

Mayer Lutheran 14 Legacy Christian Academy 1

After back-to-back losses, Crusaders responded in a big way by defeating section foe Legacy Christian Academy 14-1.

“We did a nice job of bouncing back,” Gustin said.

Mayer Lutheran opened the game with a bang, putting eight runs across the board in the first inning. Chmielewski reached base after getting hit by a pitch, then stole second before scoring on a single from Saulsbury. Flucas followed with a walk, leading to RBI singles from Mallory Kuntz and Baumann. Strehlke put the ball in play next, leading to another score, giving Mayer Lutheran a 4-0 lead.

A single from Jopp then led to two more runs after Anna Asmus put the ball in play, forcing an error. The next two runs came after walks for Taylor Gabbert and Chmielewski, when Saulsbury forced an error the put Mayer Lutheran up 8-0. The Crusaders had a commanding lead, one they would not relinquish as they went on to win the conference matchup.

Asmus picked up the win in five innings, striking out eight while allowing one run (no earned runs).