Softball makes weekend sweep against Southwest

Maurice Hudson, sports reporter

The Winona State University women’s softball team opened up their 2021 season against Southwest Minnesota State on Friday, Feb. 19.
The twin-bill took place in the bubble at Rochester Regional Stadium on the campus of Rochester Community & Technical College.
Fourth-year player Jordyn Kleman went the distance in game one, a 5-1 Warriors victory, striking out seven and throwing six hits.
Kleman received great running support from a number of teammates. Fourth-year infielder Ann Smolenski and fourth-year catcher Rylee Stout each had a pair of RBIs.
The Warriors had a four-run second inning that set the tone for the rest of the offense and proved to be all the offense needed in the opener.
Winona State tacked on a fifth run in the bottom of the sixth before retiring the Mustangs side in order in the top of the seventh for the win.
In the second game of the twin-bill, Winona State delivered a comeback win over the Mustangs, completing the sweep.
Coach Jones said the games played this weekend were a prime example of what the team was longing for while waiting to get back on the field.
“You know that moment in the fifth inning with the bases loaded and two outs and a tie game, and nobody has any idea who’s going to win or lose?” Jones said. “Those are the moments we live for as athletes.”
Fourth-year pitcher Liz Pautz took over the Warriors circle, going six innings striking out six batters, giving up only two hits and two earned runs to pick up the victory over the Mustangs.
In the seventh inning, Southwest took a 2-1 lead, but the Warriors exploded, putting up five runs in the top of the seventh to lead 6-2, going into Southwest Minnesota State’s final at-bats.
A late rally with three singles in a row by the Mustangs put the Warriors in a mandatory double-play needed situation to grab the game.
With the tying run at the plate, Winona State forced a one-hop liner to third base, where the team then turned two, tagging the bag at third and completing the long throw in time to first to end the game, with Klemen closing out the game.
Second-year infielder Libby Neveau had two RBIs for the Warriors and fifth-year catcher Alison Nowak, fifth-year outfielder Katie Kolb, Stout and first-year infielder Teaghen Amwoza each had an RBI as well.
Jones said the weekend sweep was a great indication of showing what the team has to offer.
“We have some talent on this lineup, on this roster and now it’s just a matter of starting to see [the team] in game mode,” Jones said. “And we got to see it this weekend.”
With the sweep, no. 13 Winona State moves to 2-0 on the season, while Southwest Minnesota State drops to 4-2.
The Warriors will be in action again on March 3 when they battle Bemidji State at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. in a double-header at the West St. Paul Dome.