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Z-M state softball 6-6

By Jason Feldman

jfeldman@postbulletin.com

NORTH MANKATO, Minn. — It almost seemed unfair.

Zumbrota-Mazeppa had waited for so long to play in a state softball tournament. The Cougars’ reward for reaching the Class AA state tournament for the first time in school history: A matchup against Becker and standout pitcher Kristen Fah.

Fah lived up to her gaudy stats — a 14-1 record, 0.39 ERA and 187 strikeouts in 107 innings pitched — and provided her own run support to lift Becker past Z-M, 2-0, in a state tournament quarterfinal at Caswell Park on Thursday.

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Fah allowed just two baserunners — none after the second inning — and struck out 18 Z-M batters, pitching a no-hitter to knock Z-M into the consolation bracket.

"We went and watched her (in the Section 6AA title game)," Z-M coach Kevin Nelson said, "but she was nowhere near this good."

Fah struck out the side in the first four innings, as well as the seventh inning.

"We maybe didn’t have the best at-bats, but she was dominating," Nelson said. "I’m not sure we could’ve hit her with a tennis racket today."

Z-M had just two batters reach base. Leadoff hitter Merryssa Tiedeman was hit by a pitch on the first plate appearance of the game, and outfielder Jessi St. Marie took a four-pitch walk with two outs in the second.

Neither runner advanced past first base and only three Cougars hitters put the ball in play the rest of the way.

Nelson said the Cougars were relaxed going into the first state softball tournament game in school history.

"We had a good practice (Wednesday) and were ready to play," he said. "It was 0-0 through four (innings), so by then your nerves should be gone."

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Z-M (25-4) played well in the field, and Jess Hegseth pitched a very good game, allowing just five hits. Fah had two of those hits for Becker (25-1), including a two-run home run that cleared the left field fence with plenty of room to spare in the fifth, accounting for the game’s only runs.

"Jess pitched well," Nelson said, "she just had the one mistake, but she got out of some jams and pitched a good game. … But we could have played 20 innings with (Fah) pitching like she was and not scored."

Z-M’s consolation game against Maple River/Mapleton was started in a drizzle and halted in the bottom of the third inning in a downpour. Z-M trailed 3-0 at the time the game was postponed. It was scheduled to be finished this morning, weather permitting.

"Hopefully the girls can come back (today) … sometimes a delay can change the complexion of a game," Nelson said. "If we can come back (today) and get a run right away it could be a different game."

BECKER 2, ZUMBROTA-MAZEPPA 0

Zumbrota-Mazeppa 000 000 0 — 0 0 2

Becker 000 020 x — 2 5 0

WP: Kristen Fah 7 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 18 K. LP: Jess Hegseth 6 IP,

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2 R, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K.

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