The West Central Area softball team won a pair of games in the Section 6A softball playoffs on Thursday in Glenwood, beating Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa 7-3 and Wheaton/Herman-Norcross 7-3. The wins advance the Knights to a 5:30pm contest against New York Mills on Tuesday at Minnewaska Area High School in Glenwood.
"Despite the 90 degree day, the girls came out and fought the entire time," stated WCA Head Coach Vanessa McNamara. "They hustled, made amazing plays, hit the ball, and stood at the fence the entire night cheering on their teammates."
In game one, Brianna Kreft pitched the first five innings, striking out 11 of the 18 batters she faced. Hailey Bennett threw the last two innings, allowing no hits, no walks and strikingout two of the six batters she saw.
"To see these two own the mound was something my coach would be proud of," said Coach McNamara. "They both did their part and had incredibly impressive throwing."
In the box the Knights picked up twelve hits. They were led by Bennett (3-4, 2B), Ireland Winter (3-4) and Savannah Swenson (2-3).
"Once we timed the pitcher, it was a really fun game to be part of," said McNamara. "The kids showed confidence in the box and ran the bases well. I'm so proud of them for not letting the heat get to them. There is a lot to be proud of tonight."
WCA picked up ten hits against Wheaton/Herman-Norcross in game two with all nine of their batters getting at least one hit. Kreft pitched all seven innings, giving up three hits, walking two and striking out fourteen.
"Brianna was on fire tonight," reported Coach McNamara. "She struck out 25 batters in the two games. She took the mound withi such confidence and leadership, and our whole team was behind her. To hear our dugout of young kids each pitche cheering her on kept Kreft going. It was so hot and she threw twelve innings so to have her finish her last game with fourteen strikeouts shows so much about what this young lady can do. Brianna is a leader. From throwing the pitch, to talking to her team throughout plays, to always being a consistent bat. She is a valuable piece of our team's puzzle. Behind Kreft in the field we had our team making some fantastic plays. From Madi Hansen making a beautiful double play, to Hailey Bennet covering incredible amounts of field, to our center fielder, Kaitlyn Sanstead, who let nothing drop. This whole group works together to make it all happen."
West Central Area, the number one seed in the South, will now face the top seed in the North, New York Mills on Tuesday at 5:30pm at Minnewaska Area High School in Glenwood.
"One of our season goals was to make it to the section championship," said McNamara. "To know we did our part to come out the winners of the South bracket and get to compete against the winner of the North bracket is where we wanted to be. We look forward to the opportunity to play New York Mills."