Softball sees 24th consecutive victory


Nicole Girgen

The Winona State softball team lines up along the base line to congratulate junior Alison Nowak on her home run hit against the University of Minnesota Duluth on Friday, April 19 at the Maynard R. Johnson Field.

Sydney Mohr, Features Editor

Winona State University’s softball team continued their winning streak with two wins over University of Minnesota Duluth on Friday, April 19 and two wins over St. Cloud State University on Saturday, April 20.

Friday’s games proved to be a bit of a struggle for the Warriors.

The first game of the afternoon was a close call with a 6-5 win over the Bulldogs, with the Warriors six winning runs all being brought in the sixth and seventh innings.

Junior Alexis Kelsey hit a home run in the sixth, which brought in senior Lani Van Zyl. In the seventh Van Zyl returned the favor, managing a single to left center that brought in two runs, and then Kelsey singled up the middle, scoring the last two runs for Winona State to win the first of two matches.

Game two was an intense, low-scoring battle that managed to stretch over ten innings. The Warriors scored one run in the second after a home run by junior Ali Nowak, and one run in the third as sophomore Carly Kordich sent a double out to center field and was then brought in on an RBI from first-year Kayla Kerkman.

After the fourth inning where the Bulldogs brought in a run to tie up the score, it was a six inning long back-to-back battle for who would score the winning run. Finally, after three extra innings, sophomore Jen Giesey singled through the left side, advancing sophomore Ann Smolenski home to break the dead streak of the game.

The game ended up being two hours and 43 minutes long, almost an hour over what normal games run.

“It was exhausting,” Nowak said. “That’s a lot of time to be on the field, and the fact we had already battled through one game didn’t make it easy.”

After long day on the field, the Warriors were back at it again on Saturday against the St. Cloud State University Huskies.

This first game was immediately a big hit, as Van Zyl and Nowak hit home runs back-to-back within the bottom of the first.

In the circle, junior Jordyn Kleman scattered five hits over her 54th career complete game in the opener to chalk up her 21st win of the season.

Liz Pautz three-hit the Huskies for her fourth shutout of the year in game two, advancing her win score to 14 wins in this season.

Kleman’s 21 wins rank in the top-10 in the country and Pautz’s 0.85 ERA sits inside the top-five in the nation.

St. Cloud entered the day ranked second in the NSIC batting .341, however the Warrior duo held the Huskies to just eight combined hits.

Pautz walked the first batter she faced in each of the first three innings of the finale but proceeded to strike out 12 batters, retiring 11-straight batters from the second through sixth innings. Pautz and Kleman were both taxed over the past week, combing to throw 62 of 67 innings for Winona State over the past seven days.

“It was a crazy long weekend,” Pautz said. “I’m glad with how it turned out, but it was certainly a difficult weekend for us. I’m hoping we can continue our winning streak throughout the rest of our conference games.”

The Warriors will look to continue their 24 game winning streak Wednesday, April 24 as they travel to Nebraska to take on Wayne State College. The first pitch will take place at 1 p.m.

Winona State will return home this weekend two two game series starting with the University of Mary on Saturday, April 27 and, concluding Sunday, April 28 against Minot State University.

Nicole Girgen
Kayla Kerkman prepares to advance to second base on Friday, April 19 during a double header against the University of Minnesota Duluth. The Warriors won both games, scoring 6-5 in the first game and 3-2 in the second after playing into the tenth inning