Softball remains undefeated in NSIC play

Allison Mueller

Sam Thiel/Winonan

The Winona State University softball team used its bats to silence Wayne State in their final games of March, taking the first game 7-3 before completing the sweep with a 12-2 victory in the nightcap. The Warriors continued to sweep the following two doubleheaders against University of Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State to start their April games.

In the opener, the Warriors found themselves down early 3-0. The Wildcats got on the board with a homer in the first and a couple of runs in the second.

Winona State, however, answered back quickly, getting an RBI single from McKenna Larsen and a two RBI single by Allyson O’Herron to knot the game at three.

The Warriors continued their scoring in the fifth with Ashley Walker smacking a double to left before Morgan Lintz drove Walker home with a two-run shot. Larsen added another homer to make it back-to-back and give Winona State a 6-3 advantage. The Warriors tacked on another insurance run in the sixth thanks to a Walker RBI single for the final score 7-3.

“The key to our success lately is that we’ve become more aggressive at the plate and are able to get ahead in the pitch count which can result in hitting a line drive,” Kullmann said. “We just need to keep our confidence up and stay aggressive, and we will be able to keep stringing those hits together.”

The Warriors started the nightcap in a deficit again, this time in a 2-0 hole. But Winona State used a six-run third inning thanks to an RBI single by Walker, a three-run double by O’Herron and finally a two-run shot from Natalie Kalmes to give the Warriors the lead for good.

Reed Karsten chipped into the effort with a deep ball of her own, and Lintz hit an RBI double to make it 8-2. When it was time for the fifth inning, Karsten cleared the bases with a double, and another RBI double by Walker increased the lead to 12-2.

It may be cooler outside, but the Winona State University softball team brought the heat with its bats, netting 6-2 and 11-3 victories over Minnesota Duluth Friday in Winona.

Winona State, who knocked four out of the park against Wayne State on Tuesday, hit three more round-trippers over the weekend.

In the opener, Jessica Kullmann smacked a solo shot to left in the third to put Winona State up 1-0.

Walker was solid in the first three frames for the Warriors, giving up only one hit. Minnesota Duluth got on the board with a solo homer to knot it at one. After hitting a batter and an error by Walker, the Bulldogs had runners in scoring position, but Walker and the defense took care of it with a double play.

Winona State then used a three-run fourth to its advantage, started by a Kalmes double that scored Larsen who walked. Kullmann got an RBI groundout to go before Kalmes came around thanks to a wild pitch for the 4-1 Warrior advantage.

The Bulldogs scored in the top of the sixth to make it 4-2, but the Warriors responded with a two-run bomb by Kalmes to give them breathing room and the eventual 6-2 final.

Walker picked up her 11th victory of the season, throwing a complete game and allowing just three hits with one run and four strikeouts.

In the nightcap the Warriors found themselves down early but responded in a flurry, scoring 11 runs in six innings to pick up the win.

Minnesota Duluth struck first with a three-run homer by Becky Smith to put the Bulldogs up 3-0.

That is all they scored against Warrior starter Hanna Lythberg. Larsen continued her offensive hot streak in the bottom of the first with an RBI single to make it 3-1. Winona State then reclaimed the lead with an RBI single by Reed Karsten and a double by Walker that plated three to give the Warriors a 5-3 lead.

Kullmann chipped into the effort with an RBI single to bring in Larsen and Lexi Perez added an RBI single of her own to put the Warriors up 7-3.

Walker provided the biggest highlight in the sixth inning with a soaring homer – her first on the year and 21st all-time – to make it 8-3 and give her four RBIs on the night. Kullmann put on the finishing touches of the inning with a 2 RBI single, and Perez brought in Kalmes on a fielding error for the 11-3 victory in just six innings.

Lythberg moved 13-3 on the season, going six innings and allowing just two runs while fanning four.

Winona State picked up another doubleheader sweep, this time netting 6-4 and 9-1 wins against St. Cloud State Saturday in Winona.

Winona State, who stayed undefeated in NSIC play at 10-0, bounced back from a quick 4-0 deficit in game one after the Huskies began with six singles in a row.

Senior Jessica Kullmann had a response in the second. After consecutive singles by Morgan Lintz and McKenna Larsen and an Allyson O’Herron walk, Kullmann smashed a grand slam to center to knot it at four. Lexi Perez then singled, and Reed Karsten plated Perez on an RBI double to give the Warriors the lead at 5-4.

Karsten tacked on an additional run for Winona State in the fourth, bringing around Cydnei Gunderson with an RBI single to give the Warriors the 6-4 victory.

Lythberg was the starter for the nightcap and threw all six innings, allowing one run with three strikeouts and moved her record to 14-3 on the season, the third-most wins in the conference.

After a quick Huskie run in the first, Winona State negated it with a home run by Lintz in the bottom half of the frame. Lintz also had an RBI double in the third, later scoring thanks to a wild pitch and an error.

Winona State increased their lead in the fourth, scoring four runs ending with a sacrifice fly by Lintz to give the Warriors a 7-1 lead. Lintz added to her productive day at the plate with her fourth RBI, this one on a single in the sixth for the 8-1 advantage, and Larsen capped the scoring with an RBI single for the 9-1 final.

Winona State (28-7, 10-0 NSIC) carries its 10-game homestand into the week starting with games against Concordia-St. Paul on Wednesday. The first pitch is set for 2 p.m.