Baseball returns to action, splits series

Mitchell Breuer, Sports Editor

The Winona State University baseball team returned to action this weekend after an over week-long break, for a weekend series against Southwest Minnesota State University.

The team split the series, winning two games in dominant fashion, while also losing two close matchups.

In the first outing on Saturday, the Warriors and Mustangs held each other to one run batted in a piece throughout the first five innings, in what seemed like a game that was going to be neck and neck till the end.

However, Winona went on a scoring barrage in the sixth inning, scoring 10-runs to take a commanding lead late in the game. Southwest Minnesota responded by cutting the lead from nine to seven, but it would be the Warriors coming up with the 11-3 win.

The second game of the afternoon proved to be a closer one. The Mustangs would get an early lead in the second, bringing home two runs. Senior Taylor Field would even up the score in third with a double down the infield line that brought in sophomores Derek Martin and Andrew Pliner. A pair of errors would then allow sophomore Sam Kohnle and Field to score and take the lead.

The Warriors’ lead would not last as the Mustangs would get the last laugh of the day, as they would have two innings where they would score two runs to take the lead and the win.

Sunday’s first game saw a similar result, with Winona establishing a lead early, just for Southwest Minnesota to find momentum and the lead late, and win the game with a final score of 7-6.

Despite the loss to start the day, the Warriors would not see any setbacks in the second game, responding with another dominant win to end the series.

They started off the game quick, scoring six runs in the first three innings. The team would not slow either after the Mustangs put up four in the third, instead scoring another five runs in the next two innings, capping it off with seven runs batted in during the sixth. The Warriors would end the day with a win and a final score of 18-4.

Some of the players leading the way for the team were Martin, Pilner, senior Kipp Youngquist, and first-year Zac Stange, all of whom who had multiple RBIs during the game.

“I’d say that I was definitely seeing the ball better than I had in the last few series, which is always a good feeling and I feel like we took care of the baseball as a whole team fairly well which led to some good things,” Stange said. “We know we can always get better with the clutch two-out hitting situations and we are confident that it will come.”

With the series in the books, the team’s record now stands at 14-15 and 13-9 in conference play.

After a season plagued with weather-related schedule changes and cancelations, the Warriors will look forward to a hopefully more consistent schedule this coming week.

“I think that makes life easier for us,” Martin said. “We are playing pretty good baseball right now and having a more consistent game schedule will continue to build that confidence and momentum we have as a team.”

Their schedule this week includes two road trips, the first of which is to Duluth on Wednesday, for two games against the University of Minnesota Duluth. After that, they will travel to St. Paul for a weekend series against Concordia University St. Paul.

The Warriors will play Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota on Wednesday, April 25 at 2 and 4 p.m., and will face Moorhead University at home on Saturday, April 28 at 1 and 3 p.m.

“It was a great way for the girls to get their spirit back up,” Coach Jones said. “They were a bit dishearted after their loss on Thursday, but having two back to back wins helped prove what these girls can really do.”

Kleman was the winning pitcher on the mound for game two against the Mustangs, only allowing two runs on five hits. Sophomore Alyssa Van Valey pitched the final two innings and held the Mustangs with just one hit while striking out four batters.

Larsen took up another RBI to start off the Warriors in hitting, then hitting her first home run of the season.

“It was such a rush,” Larsen said. “I loved the feeling of being able to run the bases and bring in a run for my team. I’m so happy with how this season is going, and I hope it can keep going this way.”

The Warriors took the game 8-2 against the Mustangs, bringing their season total to 26-4.

Next, the Warriors will take the home field on Saturday, April 7 against Bemidji State University at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

In the game took the team took the win over Gustavus, 132 to nothing.

“It felt like we were a family and a connected team,” Andler said. “After that game we connected on a different level which helped us the rest of the season and in the final game.”

Although they are feeling confident about the upcoming season, they also feel a lot of pressure to repeat their win at nationals.

“It is almost an expectation every year to repeat what people have done in the past,” Riley said. “It puts a hell of a lot of pressure on the girls.”

The team has made it to the final four at nationals for the past eight years.

“How far we go in the playoffs shows how much the team really wants to win,” president of the team Jordan Hofmeister said.

Even re-watching the final game last season still has an effect on the team.

“I’ve watched our national championship game four times and it still gives me chills,” Becker said. “I get nervous every time even though I know the outcome.”

Everything that is happening this semester makes them excited for the fall.

“Practices have been good and running smoothly,” Becker said. “I feel really good about next season.”

to be and now we just need to do it,” Stange said.

  The team ended Saturday, once again falling short to the Beavers, with a final score of 7-9.

  “We played a fairly solid game, but just did not come out on top,” Huebsch said.

  On Sunday, Winona State bounced back from Saturday’s losses, picking up a win in the first game, 7-5, but, couldn’t finish the job later in the day, losing 5-9, after leading ahead into the ninth inning.

  This weekend, the Warriors will host the University of Sioux Falls Cougars for a series at home, with first pitch at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 24 and 12 p.m. on Sunday, March 25.