HASTINGS — When you get to the state tournament, you always want to get off to a good start.
Guardian Angels Central Catholic spotted Auburn four runs in the top of the first inning, but more than made up for the sluggish start with a seven-run effort of their own in the bottom of the inning to help them to a 15-7 win in the first round of the Class C State Softball Championships Wednesday afternoon.
The Bulldogs touched GACC starter Brooke Meister four runs in the opening inning, taking advantage of three hits and four walks to put the Bluejays in an early hole.
Coach Allen Kreikemeier brougth Erin Franzluebbers in to relieve Meister, and she did a fantastic job of shutting down Auburn, opening the door for the Bluejays to crank out a little offense on their own.
“(Brooke) might have been a little tight pitching and couldn’t get anything going, but we made that change and (Erin) saved us and did what she had to do. It was a great feeling for her.”
The Bluejays’ seven-run outburst started with a pair of Auburn errors that were cashed in by Marissa Hunke, who singled to right to bring hom Brenna Rief and Kate Gnad to cut the deficit in half.
After Auburn turned a double play, Avery Kreikemeier followed with a long fly ball over the wall in right center to make it 4-3. Three straight walks led to a two-run single by Livia Hunke to give GACC the lead for good, and they closed the big inning with a two-run double by Rief.
“That was really big,” Kreikemeier said of his team’s seven-run opener. “I was concerned that we weren’t going to take care of it and we just came out on fire with our bats. You want to move on no matter what it looks like or how it got done. It was a little scary, but we got it done.”
The Bluejays’ bats stayed hot after that. Kreikemeier had a two-run single and scored on an error in the second inning, and the Bluejays made it 13-4 in the third with a two-run single by Marissa Hunke and an RBI single by Jenna Schinstock.
Auburn picked up three in the fifth to extend the game, but the Bluejays finished it off in the sixth with a leadoff solo shot by Kreikemeier and a wild pitch that brought home the final run of the game.
Avery Kreikemeier had a huge day, going 3-for-4 with two homers, four RBI’s and three runs scored.
“We’ll take that,” the Bluejay mentor said. “She’s hit a lot of balls to the fence at our place and we have a deep outfield, so it didn’t surprise me to see them go out and it was fun to see.”
The Bluejays will face Arlington, a 9-7 winner over Hastings St. Cecilia, in a 5:30 p.m. matchup at the Smith Softball Complex. The game will be a rematch from an early win by the Bluejays, and Kreikemeier said it will be a close battle.
“It’s going to be a lot harder than the first time,” he said. “It’s going to be a dogfight and we both have good teams, so it’s going to be fun to see what happens.”
GACC 15, Auburn 7
Auburn 400 030 — 7 11
GACC 733 002 — 15 13
WP: Franzluebbers. LP: Allen. 2B: Billings, A. Kreikemeier, Rief, Gnad. HR: Reiman, A. Kreikemeier 2.