Luverne bests Fairmont in softball, 6-1

SUDDEN IMPACT — Fairmont batter Taylor Crissinger prepares to make solid contact with a pitch for an RBI double during a Big South Conference softball game Friday at Cardinal Park in Fairmont. Luverne catcher Billi Connell (far left) awaits the delivery. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Whether it’s a hockey stick or an aluminum softball bat, Luverne freshman Billi Connell possesses a smooth but potent swing.

Connell went 2-for-4 with a game-best three RBIs on the strength of a two-run home run to power the Luverne Cardinals to a 6-1 Big South Conference softball win over the Fairmont Cardinals on Friday in Fairmont.

“She really hit the ball with authority,” Fairmont assistant coach Tom Seifert said in reference to Connell, who’s coming off a seven-goal, 10-assist varsity hockey campaign.

Luverne starting pitcher Rylee Olson assisted her own cause during the top of the first inning by lining a one-out double to the left-center gap before wheeling to third base on Sydne Johnson’s right-side groundout. Courtesy runner Nicole Aanenson then scored the game’s initial run on Halle Hough’s RBI single to center.

Olson and Fairmont pitching counterpart Jordan Ehlert then exchanged 1-2-3 innings before the Luverne senior right-hander worked around Lexus Wojtanowicz’s leadoff single in the bottom of the second inning.

Ainslie Robinson then legged out a leadoff bunt hit in the top of the third before trotting home on Connell’s towering two-run blast over the left-field fence for a 3-0 Luverne lead.

Taylor Crissinger then answered offensively for Fairmont during the home half of the third. Ehlert reached when she was hit by an Olson offering with two out before circling the bases on Crissinger’s scorched RBI double off the left-field fence.

Olson, however, limited the damage by recording one of her seven strikeouts on the game to thwart a second Fairmont threat.

“We reached base quite a few times, but just couldn’t get enough runners in a row to sustain a rally,” said Fairmont head coach Haley Loerts. “With Jo (Ehlert) throwing well and our defense playing solidly, it seemed more like a one-run game than five runs in the end.

“Luverne scored early with the home run, and that was enough for them to win today.”

Olson also received solid defensive support as Luverne second baseman Ainslie Robinson triggered a double play to erase the visitors’ only miscue of the game. Wojtanowicz reached on an error before being tagged out by Robinson on Jen Moeller’s hard-hit ensuing grounder. Robinson then flipped to first for the double play.

The defensive gem proved key as Fairmont’s Maddy Moeller followed with a two-out double to left-center before being stranded in the fourth.

Olson also worked around Chloe Murphy’s single and Ehlert’s double during the Fairmont fifth without giving up a run.

Fairmont’s only two errors of the game allowed Luverne to plate three unearned runs during the top of the seventh, with Connell and Olson each producing RBI singles.

Olson allowed one earned run on five hits, fanned seven, did not issue a walk and hit one batter in seven innings of work to earn the complete-game victory for Luverne.

Ehlert gave up six runs — just three earned — on seven hits, struck out five, did not issue a walk and hit one batter in seven innings of work to absorb the loss for Fairmont.

Fairmont (0-2) plays host to Worthington in another conference game at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday at Cardinal Park.

Luverne (1-0) travels to Windom on Thursday for a 4 p.m. league doubleheader.

LUV 102 000 3 — 6 7 1

FMT 001 000 0 — 1 5 3

Rylee Olson (WP) and Billi Connell. Jordan Ehlert (LP) and Chloe Murphy.

LOB–Fairmont 4; Luverne 3. 2B–Ehlert (FMT), Taylor Crissinger (FMT), Maddy Moeller (FMT), Olson (LUV). HR–Connell (LUV).

Brittney Mosloski doubled to produce two RBIs and scored a run to help Fairmont outlast Luverne, 8-5, during junior varsity action Friday.

Cambrie Anderson and Abby Sunken each had hits for Fairmont, while Kaitlyn Scott and Taliya Fernandez each collected RBIs.

Macey Bearson and Kaitlyn Freese each scored two runs for Fairmont, while Jaya Johnson and Allison Schwieger each scored once.

Johnson allowed five runs and struck out three in starting inside the pitching circle, while Freese struck out eight and did not allow a run in relief for Fairmont (2-0).

Prep Baseball

St. James Area 10, Martin County West 1 — Kobe Mohwinkel pitched six innings and gave up only one run on the way to winning the Saints’ season-opening nonconference game against the Mavericks, 10-1, Friday in Butterfield.

Zac Spear started for the Mavericks and pitched four innings, gave up three hits and one earned run, while striking out five in the loss.

The Saints’ offense broke through to score their first run in the fourth inning, then added four runs in the fifth and five in the sixth.

The lone Maverick run came in the sixth inning when Payton Anderson singled and later scored on Wyatt Geistfeld’s RBI single.

Karson Janssen added a double for the Mavericks’ offense.

Martin County West (0-1) travels to Blue Earth today for a 1 p.m. nonconference contest.

MCW 000 001 0 — 1

SJA 000 145 x — 10

WP–Kobe Mohwinkel (1-0); LP–Zac Spear (0-1).