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Alex softball: Dewanz's gem isn't quite enough against Apollo

Alexandria's junior pitcher Kaila Dewanz goes into her windup during the fifth inning of the Cardinals game against St. Cloud Apollo on Tuesday night. (Eric Morken/Echo Press)

The Alexandria softball team got a strong pitching performance from Kaila Dewanz on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t enough to overcome 11 runners left on base in a 2-0, nine-inning loss to St. Cloud Apollo on Senior Night.

The two teams were scoreless until the top of the ninth when the Eagles led off the inning with a sharp single and a hit batter. That brought in reliever Taylor Ellingson to pitch, and the senior got the first two batters she faced with strikeouts.

Apollo’s Courtney Mueller made sure the runners weren’t left stranded as she delivered a two-RBI single to the right-center field gap. The Cardinals couldn’t answer as they went down in order in the bottom of the ninth.

“Usually our hitting has been on recently,” senior third baseman Sarah Bruzek said after leading the offense with two hits and a walk in five plate appearances. “[Apollo pitcher Hannah Reichel] had some high pitches that we swung at. Maybe it wasn’t our favorite strike zone today, but we’ll get it next time…it just didn’t happen for us today.”

The Cardinals had their chances to open the game up right away in the first inning when they loaded the bases with one out. Bruzek, Ellingson and Carly Dropik were all on base before Reichel got the next two batters swinging to strike out the side.

Alexandria had runners in scoring position in four other innings. The Cardinals had two runners thrown out at the plate to end the second and fifth frames. Reichel won the pitcher’s duel by working out of trouble after scattering seven hits. She walked three and struck out eight.

“She did a nice job,” Alexandria head coach Randy Albers said of Reichel. “She didn’t walk many, kept moving the ball around and we had our chance early with the bases loaded and didn’t score. We left 11 runners on total and didn’t get the timely hit. During the past few games here during our winning streak, we were getting the timely hits, especially with two outs.”

Dewanz gave the Cardinals every chance to win their eighth straight game. The junior took a tough-luck loss but was impressive throughout the night. She scattered five hits and a hit batter through eight-plus innings of work. Dewanz retired 13 straight batters at one point and finished with four strikeouts.

“I felt pretty confident and in my defense also in the way they were playing,” Dewanz said. “It just didn’t come our way in the hitting. We came into this game all excited, and it just didn’t go our way.”

The loss will make things difficult on the Cardinals in their quest to compete for a CLC title. Alexandria fell to 5-3 in league play, while Apollo improved to 2-4. Rocori came into the night 5-1 in the CLC and Brainerd is 7-0 and 12-1 overall after an 11-0 win over Fergus Falls on Tuesday.

Alexandria will be at Brainerd on Thursday with a chance to make a dent in that conference lead. That was this team’s focus was after the bats fell silent against the Eagles.

“Coach just says you have to have confidence when you step up to the plate,” Bruzek said. “That’s just something that we need to get to. The season’s short with all the rain and snow, all the stuff in Minnesota. We have to get ready and be ready every game because every game counts.”

Eric Morken

Eric Morken is the sports and outdoor editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.

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