Fielder's choice leads to Owatonna walk-off win over Albert Lea
After giving up three runs on the top of the seventh inning, the Owatonna High School softball team was just three outs away from having surrending the lead late for the second-straight game.
Then, with Rilee Schmidt straddling first after a walk, Kenzie Karsten belted a triple to tie the game at 9-9 with no outs.
With shortstop Ellie Rohman being thrown out at first on a fielder’s choice, Karsten was able to bring the walk-off win across in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Huskies to a 10-9 win over Albert Lea in Big Nine Conference action at Morehouse Park Thursday.
“She was due,” noted Owatonna head coach Brian Pilcher. “Kenzie’s got a lot of strength and I told the girls ‘I knew that we were going to get the run. I just knew it in my heart and when Kenzie comes in there, there was no one else I wanted in there.”
Battling a deficit was the reoccurring theme for Owatonna as they battled back to regain the lead after trailing twice. The Huskies allowed three runs in the top of the first inning after starting pitcher Tiana Blazek walked the first three batters she faced prior to giving up a RBI single to Albert Lea’s Kathryn Flaherty.
“She struggled a little bit on the mound and sometimes pitchers go through that,” commented Pilcher. “But, she worked through it and settled in to get the job done.”
The junior seemed to settle into a groove toward the middle innings. After allowing three hits in the first inning, Blazek quickly cooled off the bats of the Tigers, leaving Albert Lea hitless in the following four innings. She would go the distance for Owatonna, allowing three earned runs on eight hits and recording four strikeouts.
After cutting the lead to 3-1 after three innings, the Huskies’ offense regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth, scoring three runs, all started on Blazek’s double. She also kicked off the scoring in the bottom of the fifth, connecting on her second double of the game to score Jamie Davison from first. Blazek went 2-for-3 with a team-high three RBI’s.
Holding a 7-3 lead after five, the wheels started to slowly come off the bus for the Huskies as Albert Lea managed to cut the game to 7-6 after six innings. Owatonna attempted to extend its lead in the bottom of the sixth as Hannah Fisher connected on a RBI single scoring Tori Buck after Tigers’ pitcher Megan Johnson walked the first three batters she faced in the inning.
In the midst of a Tigers’ rally in the top of the seventh, everyone’s attention turned to left-center field after two Huskies collided trying to play a fly ball that ultimately allowed Albert Lea to take a 9-8 lead. After a brief stoppage of play, one player was able to leave the field to the dugout under her own power while the other had to be assisted off the field.
Blazek managed to guide the Huskies out of the inning, fielding a ground ball prior to throwing to first for the final out of the inning.
Owatonna (2-1) will travel to Mankato West to play the defending state champions on Tuesday.