Fourth-ranked Pipestone Area softball team blows by Tigers

Teams always like to head into the postseason with momentum on their side, but after getting roughed up by the fourth-ranked softball in Class AA in their final doubleheader of the regular season, the Marshall Tigers will have to refocus and regroup before they begin play in the Section 3AA tournament Tuesday.

The Pipestone Arrows completed a perfect 12-0 season in Southwest Conference action with a sweep of the Tigers Thursday at the Marshall Softball Complex, opening with a 6-1 win in Game 1 and pounding three home runs in an 11-1 victory in Game 2.

Marshall head coach Jack Houseman, whose team will sport an 11-7 record (6-6 Southwest Conference) heading into the playoffs, said the losses against the Arrows showed the Tigers what they must improve upon for sections.

“We needed to make a couple more defensive plays and still have to get better behind the plate at throwing people out,” Houseman said. “That kind of hurt that whole game, them just taking an extra base when they got on at first.

“We still have plenty of room to grow, we just have to stay confident and get back to work tomorrow.”

Tasia Woelber tossed a one-hitter for the Arrows in the opener. Callie Graff, who pitched for the Tigers in the loss, had a double for Marshall’s lone hit.

Marshall’s offensive woes subsided a bit in the second game against Pipestone’s Kelly Nettik. The Tigers managed 10 hits in the game, but only pushed one run across the plate.

Hitting has been a strength for the Tigers much of the season but Pipestone’s pitchers got the Marshall batters off their game.

“I think we struggled from the plate once we got behind in that first game and started thinking a little bit too much at the plate instead of just throwing out hands at it,” Houseman said. “We came back a little bit with the bats there, but not enough to do any damage.”

Meanwhile, the Pipestone bats were making plenty of noise. In the second game the Arrows had five extra-base hits, including home runs from Nettik, Megan Remund and Paige Peterson. They scored seven runs in the first two innings to take control right away.

“They know what they’re doing,” Houseman said of the Pipestone batters. “They’re going to move people around and hit the holes and the gaps. If you leave it out in the middle of the plate, they’re going to make you pay for it.”

Miranda Fischer took the loss for Marshall in the second game. Despite some struggles in the circle, she had a strong game at the plate going 3-for-3.

Marshall begins the Section 3AA-North Tournament at 3 p.m. Tuesday against YME at the Marshall Softball Complex. Awarded the No. 2 seed in the sub-section, Houseman feels his team has the potential to make some noise in the playoffs.

“We still have to play our defense, the pitchers still have to hit their spots and we have to continue to hit the ball like we did all year,” he said. “We do that and we should do quite well in the section tournament, but we’re going to have to do it one game at a time.”