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Patriots defeat S-M for first section title

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The Pequot Lakes Patriots defeated Staples-Motley by scores of 1-0 and 4-0 on Thursday, May 30, at Rivers Edge Park in Waite Park to win the first Section 6AA title in program history.

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The Patriots advanced to the Class AA state tournament with a pair of wins over the Cardinals, who were previously unbeaten in postseason action in the double elimination section field. Pequot Lakes rode the right arm of junior pitcher Katie White, who had a pair of complete game shutouts by tossing a three hitter and striking out 14 in the first game, and then fanning six S-M hitters in the final game.

Last season, the Patriots were eliminated by the Cardinals, and their junior pitcher Megan Vetsch, in the second round of the subsection. This year, S-M again defeated Pequot Lakes for the West Subsection 6AA title, and dropping the Patriots into the loser’s bracket. But Pequot Lakes bounced back by winning three straight to earn a rematch for the section crown against their Mid-State Conference rivals.

Pequot Lakes, 19-2 overall, advances to the state quarterfinals where they will open against Hermantown at 11 a.m. on Thursday, June 6, at Caswell Park in North Mankato.

Patriots 1, Staples-Motley 0

The first game on May 30, was another close pitcher’s duel between White and Vetsch. The game was scoreless through five innings, although Pequot Lakes stranded two runners on base in the first and third innings.

S-M did have two runners on base in the top of the sixth, but they were both stranded. The Patriots would score the only run in the bottom of the sixth as a steady rain began to fall. Lindzee Johnson opened with a single, and one out later Hannah Zimmerman walked. Taylor Crocker then had a single to load the bases.

Becca Langer then hit a dribbler down the third-base line, but Vetsch had trouble picking up the ball and Johnson raced home to make it 1-0. The Patriots eventually left the bases loaded in the inning, and the game moved to the seventh.

S-M’s Jasmine McGilluray singled and Quinn Uhlman walked to start the inning. Both runners advanced on a passed ball as White struggled with her grip in the heavy rain. With runners on second and third, the Cardinals’ Kayla Schmeig fell backward as she made contact with the ball, which rolled in fair territory in front of the plate. Pequot Lakes’ catcher Emily Wgeischofski tagged out Schmeig, and the runners were not able to advance. White then struck out the next two hitters for the 1-0 win to force one more game.

“It was terrible out there,” White said of the steady rain. “I couldn’t dry off my hands until coach (Bret Sergent) called timeout and brought me a towel. I was then able to strike out the last two batters.”

The 14 strikeouts were a career high for White while on offense outfielder Jessica Kreitz was the only Patriot with two hits.

Patriots 4, Staples-Motley 0

There was almost an hour rain delay before the final game started. When it did, it was Pequot Lakes quickly scoring twice in the top of the first inning. Wiebolt led off with a single and White drilled an RBI triple. White then scored on a ground out.

The Patriots added a pair of runs in the fourth inning. Barb Miller reached on an infield single with two outs, and eventually scored when an infielder overthrew to first base. White then singled home Wiebolt to make it 4-0 as Pequot Lakes now had a little breathing room.

White allowed two baserunners after the third inning – a two-out single in the sixth and a hit batter with two outs in the seventh. The final threat ended on a popup to Wiebolt at shortsthop to clinch the section title.

“This is awesome,” White said after the game. “I’ve dreamed of making it to state, and now we’re going.”

Kreitz added that it was “an unbelievable” way to end her senior year.

“We jumped on them early to give us a big advantage, and Katie pitched well as usual,” Sergent said. “We really hit the ball in the game.”

The Patriots enjoyed a 13-2 edge in hits, including a 4-for-4 effort by White. Zimmerman was 3-4, Langer 2-3 and Wiebolt 2-4.

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