'That's a heck of a club' Kasson-Mantorville gets past Cannon Falls with near flawless game
The KoMets were great in all three facets of the game in what was an impressive performance on Thursday.
CANNON FALLS — Tom Langfeldt kept Thursday’s postgame speech to his team relatively short and sweet.
Truth is there wasn’t much to say for the Cannon Falls softball coach other than to give a talented Kasson-Mantorville team some kudos.
“That is a great team, holy smokes,” Langfeldt said of the KoMets. “You have to tip your hat to them. That’s a heck of a club.”
This came after the KoMets dominated all three phases of the game Thursday, playing great defense behind stellar starter Ella Babcock, while the offense was patient against Cannon Falls standout starter Abby Breuer by utilizing some small ball. It all came together to give K-M an 8-2 victory over the Bombers in a matchup of two of the best in the Hiawatha Valley League.
It was as complete of an effort as one will see. It was especially impressive considering the KoMets (3-1, 3-1) have had as many outdoor practices as they have had games.
“We kind of went out there and we controlled all three phases,” K-M coach Paul Mann said. “We did it against a great pitcher. We’ve faced her many times, so we know what we were getting into.”
The KoMets were patient against Breuer, who has become the strikeout queen of Southeastern Minnesota, taking close pitches and pouncing on mistakes starting right away in the first inning. A two-out walk from Catiera Thome was followed with a double off the right-center fence by McKenzie Rich, who then scored the next hitter after the first of four Bombers’ errors in the first three innings made it 2-0.
“Coming out and scoring those runs right away — that allowed us to relax, settle in and get our bunts down, play small ball and score a few more,” Mann said.
Breuer made it 2-1 with a run-scoring double in the bottom of the first but K-M answered right back with that small ball.
In back-to-back at-bats with runners on third, the KoMets dropped down bunts, scoring a pair to go up 4-1. The four runs proved to be plenty for the KoMets as Babcock was dealing in the circle. The junior right-hander was exceptional, living in the bottom of the zone with her fastball, before following it up with a rise ball that delivered a lethal combo. By the fourth inning, she found the feel for her changeup and then it was just about game over for the Bombers. She allowed just three hits with eight strikeouts in seven innings.
“I was just impressed,” Langfeldt said of Babcock. “She did a nice job of mixing speeds. That change-up. It really kept our kids off-balanced. … She’s special.”
The Kasson-Mantorville defense behind Babcock was also special.
They not only made the simple plays, but the extraordinary, taking away what seemed like for sure hits off the bat. Center fielder Libby Maxson took away extra bases with a running grab in the right-center gap in the fourth. Two innings later it was right fielder Abby Zahn that robbed Breuer of at least a double, snagging a slicing line drive down the line. Second baseman Aubrey Grover came out of nowhere to grab a looping liner behind first base. It was a defensive clinic.
“It makes my job a lot easier,” Babcock said of the defense behind her. “No matter what I throw, my defense has my back for sure. We played amazing, like jaw dropping honestly. The outfield had my back. The infielders were perfect. It was just a well-rounded game.”
The KoMets put the game away with two runs in the sixth after a bases loaded walk was followed by a wild pitch. Breuer finished with 13 strikeouts but the depth of the KoMets lineup was just too much.
“Just solid, from top to bottom their swings are all solid,” Langfeldt said. “I mean there’s not a weak spot out there. It’s just not fair. Paul does such a good job with them.”