Blossoms knocking on state door

AUSTIN — Tayla Jones and her Blooming Prairie teammates hadn't faced Winona Hope Lutheran and ace pitcher Felicia Meyer this season.

They knew plenty about Meyer, however. She beat the Blossoms twice last year in the Section One, Class A softball tournament.

While the Blossoms showed tremendous patience at the plate against Meyer on Saturday at Austin's Todd Park, Jones decided to go right at one of the top pitchers in southeastern Minnesota. Her approach paid off as Jones played a critical role in both of the Blossoms' rallies.

She went 3-for-4 with two doubles, an RBI and the game-winning run scored in Blooming Prairie's 3-2 victory against Hope Lutheran in the Section 1A semifinal game. The victory puts the Blossoms (22-2) within one victory of a Class A state tournament berth.

"I was going up there to be aggressive," Jones, the Blossoms' junior shortstop said. "I was going up there swinging and wanting to get a hit."


Blooming Prairie will face either Hope Lutheran or Rushford-Peterson on Tuesday in the section championship game. A Blossoms victory gives them the section championship. A win by R-P or Hope means a second championship game will be played on Thursday.

"We want to go in on Tuesday and win it right away," Jones said. "We don't want to have to play that second game."

Jones drove in the first run of the game in the top of the third inning when she belted a double to left field that brought home leadoff hitter Tricia DeBoer.

"She's been one of our top hitters all season," Blossoms coach Ali Mach said of Jones. "She's such a smooth hitter, has a smooth swing. She's been in the No. 3 spot for us all year and she completely impressed me with the way she hit against (Meyer)."

The Patriots (18-3) answered in the bottom of the fourth, taking a 2-1 lead on RBI singles by Dakota Ellinghuysen and Lacey Ellinghuysen.

Blooming Prairie regrouped and sent eight batters to the plate in the sixth. Anna Peterson led off with a base hit, and Jones followed with her second double of the game, moving Peterson to third. Kelly Peterson then dropped down a sacrifice bunt and Anna Peterson scored when the Patriots chose to get the out at first base.

With two outs, Blooming loaded the bases for third baseman Kelli Naatz, who was inserted as a defensive replacement in the fourth inning. Naatz showed a keen eye and a lot of patience, fouling off a pitch, then taking four balls for a walk that brought home Jones with the winning run.

"We've been working hard all season long for this time of the year," Mach said. "The girls really wanted to come in and get two wins (Saturday). It wasn't easy by any means, but they did it."


Rushford-Peterson remained alive by rolling to a 9-2 victory against Randolph in loser-out play. R-P fell to Hope Lutheran, 3-0, in the first game Saturday as Meyer struck out 13 hitters.

Blooming Prairie topped Randolph, 4-1, in the other opening-round game. The Blossoms' Sam Johnson blasted a walk-off three-run home run with one out in the bottom of the seventh to seal the victory.

R-P and Hope Lutheran meet at 5 p.m. Tuesday in loser-out play, with the winner facing Blooming Prairie at 7 p.m.



Blooming Prairie 3, Hope Lutheran 2

Blooming Prairie 001 002 0 -- 3 6 1

Hope Lutheran 000 200 0 -- 2 6 1


Blooming Prairie: Tricia DeBoer 2-for-4, R, SB; Anna Peterson 2-for-4, R; Tayla Jones 2-for-3, 2 2B, R, RBI. WP: Erica Manske 7 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 6 H, 4 BB, 5 K.

Hope Lutheran: Dakota Ellinghuysen 2-for-2, RBI. LP: Felicia Meyer 7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 13 K.


Blooming Prairie 4, Randolph 1

Randolph 100 000 0 -- 1 6 5

Blooming Prairie 100 000 3 -- 4 7 0

Randolph: Rachel Frandrup 1-for-3, RBI; Carissa Hansen 2-for-3, 2 2B; Haley Trom 2-for-3. LP: Hansen 6 1/3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K.

Blooming Prairie: Tricia DeBoer 2-for-4, R, SB; Anna Peterson 3-for-4 2B, RBI; Sam Johnson HR, 3 RBIs. WP: Erica Manske 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K.


Note: Blooming Prairie wins the West Subsection 1A championship.

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