Softball: Pioneers deflate Zephyrs with double header sweep

Way back when the temperature was 72 degrees and ideal for playing softball outdoors -- that would be early last week -- the Hill-Murray Pioneers hosted the Mahtomedi Zephyrs in a revised-schedule double-header of 5-inning games.

The Zephyrs came to Hill-Murray April 29 hoping for twin wins. But the high-flying Pioneers pushed their 2013 record to 5-0 with a sweep of the two games played.

Hill-Murray 9 — Mahtomedi 1

In game one, the Pioneers put the Zephyrs away in the second inning when they scored four runs.

Jessica Tossey led off and banged a single into short left field. Greta Steigauf was safe on a throwing error and Tossey scored from first as Steigauf ended up on third.

Molly Cashman banged a shot to third base and made first on a fielder’s choice as Steigauf was out at home on a 5-2 play.

Rachel Evanson lofted a shot to left center and was safe when the ball was dropped and Cashman came home.

Victoria Ofsthun smacked a double into left centerfield to score Evanson. Nicole Thompson kept things going by bunting her way on or a single.

Megan Toninato hit a roller to short that put Jacqueline Kaasa — running for pitcher Ofsthun —  across to push the count to 4-0.

In the top of the third the Zephyrs narrowed the count when McKenna Carlson led off with a bunt single. She moved to second on an infield out and came home on a single off the bat of Caitlin McGauley.

Katie Johnson — up from the “B” Squad — started the bottom of the third with a single and Haley LaValle went in to run. LaValle moved to second on a wild pitch, then swiped third and came home on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Steigauf.

In their half of the fourth the Pioneers scored four more runs.

Thompson picked up a single and stole second. Toninato smacked a single and moved to second on a stolen base.

With runners on third and second, Sophia Schwartz was out on a 1-3 put-out, but Thompson scored to push the count to 6-0.

In stepped Johnson. She picked a pitch to her liking and sent a screamer 212 feet over the left centerfield fence for a 2-run shot to make the score 8-1.

It was Johnson’s second hit and she also scored twice and put up two RBIs.

Jessica Tossey followed with a double to left center — her second hit — and came in a single by Steigauf to push the score to 9-1.

The Zephyrs went down in order in the top of the fifth and the game went into the books.

Hill-Murray 7 — Mahtomedi 4

Game two got underway with Hill-Murray playing the role of the visitors.

In the top of the second they made a bid to keep the runs coming across the plate.

Schwartz led off with a bloop single into left field. She promptly stole second. A strikeout later, Cashman knocked a single to left and Schwartz scored.

Kaasa ripped a double into left centerfield to plate Cashman.

Kaasa  moved to third on a passed ball and came home on a sacrifice fly by LaValle that gave the Pioneers the lead at 5-0.

In the bottom of the second the Zephyrs gave notice they were still in the game. Tessa Kusche led off and lashed a double into the left centerfield gap. She moved to third on a wild pitch.

Sam Rambo picked up a RBI when she knocked a single into right centerfield. She swiped second base, moved to third on an infield out and came home on a slow roller to the right side to move the Zephyrs to within one at 2-3.

In the top of the fifth the Pioneers widened their gap.

Thompson led off with a bunt single. Toninato was thumped by a pitch. The pair attempted a double steal but Thompson was out at third.

Kennedy Houge plated Toninato with a double into the left centerfield gap. Bonfe stepped in and got on base the hard way when she was hit by a pitch.

Anderson followed and slapped a hard shot into the hole and both Houge and Bonfe came home. Cashman and Kaasa then picked up back-to-back singles to put Anderson across the plate with the 7-2 counter.
In the bottom of the fifth the Zephyrs’ bats again came alive.

Dick led off with a single and moved up the paths on consecutive wild pitches. A sacrifice fly to center by Maggie Germsheid put Dick across the plate.

Tessa Kuschke followed and knocked a single into left. Rambo sent a single into right and the  Zephyrs had something going. Carlson put a bunt on the ground and instead of going to first for the out the ball was thrown wide of the plate. Kuschke scored to run the score to 7-4.

That turned out to be the final run of the contest.

Following the games Mahtomedi coach Angela Vedders said, “This is the first time we’ve hit outside. We hit the ball better in the second game, but we still have to improve. We’re playing well, but we couldn’t get the hits when we needed them. We’ll get back to work and improve.”

From the Hill-Murray point of view, Coach Colleen Conway also lamented the fact that Hill-Murray had been inside for practice all season. “It’s so good to get outside. It is tough for the kids to keep their outlook positive when the weather is so bad. But we hit the ball pretty well today. We have some improving to do to try to keep the ball down, but it will come. Our girls have faced the real challenge of being inside very well. They have remained happy and have maintained a good attitude. I just hope we can hang in there and it stays nice.”

Contrary to Conway’s hopes, the weather threw yet another wrench into the teams’ attempts to get their revamped schedules played.

Right now Hill-Murray is scheduled to play a May 13 4:15 p.m. match at North and a May 14 4:15 game at Tartan.

But it would be a good idea to check the Classic Suburban Conference web site before making any plans. 

In case of inclement weather, rescheduled contests may be found by going to

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