Lourdes vs. Annandale Class AA Quarterfinal

Lourdes senior Linda O'Connell (3) hits a two-run home run during a Class AA state quarterfinal game against Annandale on Thursday at Caswell Park in North Mankato. Lourdes beat Annandale 8-6 and Pipestone 2-1 to advances to Friday's championship game.

NORTH MANKATO -- Lourdes overcame a slow start to topple Annandale 8-6 on Thursday in the Class AA softball state quarterfinals at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

The Eagles, the No. 2 seed, were playing in their first state tournament in softball and they had a case of the jitters early on.

"The girls were a little tight right away, I could tell," Lourdes coach Becky Macken said. "This is a different stage, they've never been here before. But we talked about responding to adjustments and they responded quite well."

"I think we had we all had those few butterflies at first, but I think we came in here pretty confident," Lourdes senior left fielder Linda O'Connell said. 

The first seven Lourdes hitters were retired and the Eagles were trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the third inning before the bottom of the order picked the team up. No. 8 hitter Veronica Taylor singled with one out in the third inning and O'Connell followed with a two-run homer to right-center, her second of the season, to tie the score.

"She had two strikes on her, I think, and we told her 'You've got to be aggressive and protect it.' And she swung hard on that outside pitch and it went over," Macken said.

"It takes us a while to adjust to a pitcher sometimes, but we usually do," O'Connell said. "I just kind of took the first one I saw; might as well go up there swinging."

Lourdes was trailing again 3-2 heading into the bottom of the fifth. The Eagles then collected six of their eight hits in the inning and scored six times to take an 8-3 lead. Freshman Elizabeth Pike had two hits in inning. She started the rally with a single and scored and then ended it with an RBI single to plate the Eagles' final run of the inning.

After a costly Annandale error, Margaret Rogers tied the game with an RBI single in the fifth. Ashley Krom snapped a 3-3 tie with a two-run single with two outs and the bases loaded. Winning pitcher Anna Taylor, Karin Hayford and Pike all added RBI singles to plate three more runs.

"We had to score when we had the (chances)," Macken said. "That's why you play seven innings."

"All season once we get the bats going we rally pretty well," O'Connell said. 

It turned out the Eagles needed the runs. Unseeded Annandale (17-9)  loaded the bases with no outs in the seventh inning and proceeded to score three runs. It had the tying run at the plate before Anna Taylor got the final out on a fly to center.

"I think we handled ourselves pretty well," O'Connell said. "We've been in a lot of situations where we've had to come back and handle it."

The win moves the Eagles to 23-3 and they were scheduled to play No. 3 Pipestone in the state semifinals at 5 p.m. Thursday at Caswell Park.

Quarterfinals

Lourdes 8, Annandale 6

Annandale 002 010 3 -- 6 8 3

Lourdes     002 060 x -- 8 9 2

ANNANDALE: Emmarie Yeager 3-for-4, 1 3B, 2 R; Faith Thrun 2-for-3, 1 R; Josey Marquette 2-for-4, 2 RBI; Jennah Groth 1-for-4, 2 RBI; Morgan Jones 1-for-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI; Alison Helget 1-for-2, 2 R. Pitchers: Paige Fasching 4 2/3 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; Morgan Jones 1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K.

LOURDES: Margaret Rogers 1-for-4, 1 RBI, 1 R; Alyssa Ustby 1-for-4; Ashley Krom 1-for-2, 2 RBI, 1 R; Anna Taylor 1-for-3, 1 RBI; Karin Hayford 1-for-3, 1 RBI; Elizabeth Pike 2-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 R; Veronica Taylor 1-for-2; Sonya Schroeder 2 R; Linda O'Connell 1-for-2, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R. Pitcher: Anna Taylor (WP) 7 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K.

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Sports Reporter

Guy covers a wide variety of high school, college and professional sports. He is a native of Rochester and has worked at the Post Bulletin since 1999. Guy resides in Byron with his wife, children and numerous pets.