The 20th-ranked Winona State University (WSU) softball team traveled north to take on the Concordia University - St. Paul (CSP) Golden Bears on Thursday, the first of three conference doubleheaders the Warriors will play over the next four days.
Although the Warriors were held to just five hits in game one, tying their second-lowest hit total of the season, CSP had to contend with Jordyn Kleman who dominated the Golden Bear batting lineup from the opening inning, guiding the Warriors to a 2-0 win.
In game two, Liz Pautz plowed through the CSP order, allowing just four hits and one run.
Winona State’s Libby Neveau caused a softball shortage in St. Paul, sending three over the fence in the doubleheader, the only time a WSU player has hit three home runs in one day this year.
In game one, Kleman conceded just three singles and allowed only one CSP hitter to advance past first base in a masterful outing for the La Crosse, Wis., senior. In earning the victory, Kleman claimed her fifth shutout of the season and moved to the 14 win mark on the campaign.
At the plate, Katie Kolb and Libby Neveau took matters into their own hands with Kolb cracking a solo home run in the first inning and Neveau a solo shot in the second, providing all of the scoring necessary in the game for head coach Greg Jones and his team.
Carly Kordich doubled in the fifth inning and eventually reached third after a Abbie Hlas single and Alison Nowalk walk, which was the only other Warrior threat to score after WSU was up 2-0.
To her credit, CSP pitcher Kali Kaestner tossed a game that would beat most teams in the NSIC, holding WSU to five hits in a complete game effort.
Kaestner did not concede a walk and struck out 12 Warriors. However, the combination of Kolb and Neveau’s long ball blasts and Kleman’s control in the circle provided the Warriors with the win.
In addition, Winona State turned in a trademark defensive effort, yielding zero errors in the contest.
After hitting a home run to open game one, Katie Kolb reached base on a first-pitch bunt single to start the Warrior offense in game two.
Following an Abbie Hlas walk, Rylee Stout sent a Aryka Knoche delivery off the fence, scoring both Kolb and Hlas. One batter later, Libby Neveau drove in her conference-leading 30th RBI on a single to left field.
Liz Pautz took the circle for the Warriors and struck out the first Golden Bear she faced, Clara Heislen. Pautz went on to retire the side in order and never looked back, leading WSU to a 7-1 win in the nightcap.
With two out, Allison Nowak drove in two runs in the top of the second inning, stretching the Warrior advantage to 5-0 after just two frames of play. Nowak, the Warrior catcher for much of the game two after serving as the designated player in game one, combined with Pautz to keep the Golden Bears off balance in the batters box.
Concordia - St. Paul got on the scoreboard in the sixth via a double by Emma Lero and her pinch-runner, Meagan Bliese, who then scored on a sacrifice fly for the only CSP tally of the day.
As a team, Winona State collected 10 hits, two of which were solo home runs by Libby Neveau. Included in the impressive offensive outing was a 3-for-3 game by Abbie Hlas, while Nowak and Rylee Stout had two hits apiece.
After not drawing a free pass in game one, WSU earned three walks in game two, one each for Katie Kolb, Hlas and Teaghen Amwoza.
Individually, Libby Neveau’s two home runs in game two and three dingers on the day marked the first time this season a Warrior has hit three home runs on the same day. The Oshkosh, Wis., product is near the top of the NSIC leader board in RBI’s and home runs.
Ranked 20th nationwide in Division II, Winona State (25-6, 14-4 conference) has now won eight straight contests, one away from matching their season-opening nine victories earned between February 19 and March 19.
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