Softball: Ponies start fast with three straight wins

WOODBURY — Behind another strong pitching performance from Emma Murphy, the Stillwater softball team won its third in a row to start the season on Wednesday, April 12 with a 3-1 Suburban East Conference victory at East Ridge.

Murphy, who has yet to allow an earned run in three starts, lost a no-hitter with one out in the sixth inning, but remained tough down the stretch for the Ponies (2-0 SEC, 3-0). She walked three and finished with two strikeouts in the complete game one-hitter.

“She had command of her pitches and is really throwing the ball well,” Ponies coach Bob Beedle said. “If we can keep that up, we should keep ourselves in the game.”

The game time was moved up 45 minutes because of forecasted rain. Precipitation became a factor in the last few innings, which coincided with East Ridge’s lone run in the sixth. Murphy walked a runner in each of the last three innings, but she snared a hard liner and fired to first to complete a game-ending double play.

“That was a good play by Murphy,” Beedle said. “It started to rain in the fifth and it didn’t feel like we had enough runs. That was when the rain started really impacting the game.”

Stillwater has scored at least one run in the first inning of all three games to start the season and the Ponies jumped out to an early 1-0 lead against the Raptors (0-2, 2-3). Olivia Walsh drew a one-out walk and stole second before Torri Chute drove an RBI double over the left-fielder’s head. Chute has delivered six hits through three games and they have all been doubles.

The Ponies added a run in the fifth when Alex Ehde drove a base hit to score Emily White, who led off the inning with a walk and stole second before two failed bunt attempts set the stage for a clutch two-out hit from Ehde.

After the Raptors trimmed the deficit with a run in the sixth, Stillwater added an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Murphy reached on an error and courtesy runner Amelia Kraft was bunted to second by Cleo Nystrom. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, Kraft raced home on a chopper by Emily White and beat a close throw with a head-first slide around the reach of the catcher.

Stillwater 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 — 3 3 2

E. Ridge 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 — 1 1 1

WP: Emma Murphy 7-ip, 1-h, 1-r, 0-er, 3-bb, 2-so

LP: Hannah Stegeman 7-ip, 3-h, 3-r, 2-er, 3-bb, 0-so

Leading hitters: St, Alex Ehde 2×4 (2B) and Torri Chute 1×3 (2B); ER, Allison Richmond 1×3.

Stillwater 10, Roseville 0 (5 inn.)

At Oak Park Heights, the Ponies opened conference play with a 10-0 victory over Roseville in five innings on Tuesday, April 11 at Stillwater Area High School. The game was originally scheduled for Monday, but pushed back a day because of cold weather.

Emma Murphy was sharp while limiting the Raiders to just one hit in the complete game. She did not walk a batter and finished with six strikeouts — facing just one batter over the minimum.

“I thought she really pitched a solid game,” Stillwater coach Bob Beedle said. “The defense played well behind her and she had command of her pitches and the location was good. She was really in control of the game all the way.”

Nine different players combined for Stillwater’s 11 hits, including two apiece by Torri Chute and Murphy, who each doubled twice.

Stillwater batted around while scoring six runs in the first inning. Alex Ehde singled and Olivia Walsh walked to provide an early boost. Chute followed with a two-run double before Tatiana Tabucol doubled home courtesy runner Lauren Fischer for a 3-0 lead. The Ponies were not finished as Murphy fololowed with an RBI double. Emily White also laid down a successful squeeze bunt to push Stillwater’s sixth run across in the inning.

“We batted around in the first it was all solid shots,” Beedle said. “We hit the ball hard all the way around in the first.”

The Ponies went quietly until the fourth when Haley Eder-Zdechlik singled and Walsh drew a two-out walk before Chute delivered another double to the left-center gap to build an eight-run cushion. Then in the bottom of the fifth, Murphy doubled and courtesy runner Adrianna Massey scored from third on a line-out to center by Cleo Nystrom. Ehde finished off the game with an RBI triple to invoke the 10-run rule with two outs.

Roseville 0 0 0 0 0 — 0 1 0

Stillwater 6 0 0 2 2 — 10 11 0

WP: Emma Murphy 5-ip, 1-h, 0-r, 0-er, 0-bb, 6-so

LP: Lexi DeBace 2/3-ip, 4-h, 6-r, 6-er, 2-bb, 0-so

Leading hitters: Ros, Gabby Spencer 1×3 (2B); St, Alex Ehde 2×5 (2B), Olivia Walsh 0x1 (2 BB, 2 runs), Torri Chute 2×3 (2 2B, 4 RBI), Tatiana Tabucol 1×3, Emma Murphy 2×2 (2 2B), Amelia Kraft 1×1, Katie Kurzejeski 1×2, Haley Eder-Zdechlik 1×2 and Ani Bell 1×1.

Stillwater 10, Hill-Murray 6

At Maplewood, facing the same pitcher and team that knocked them into the losers bracket of the section tournament a year ago, the Ponies scored early and often on the way to a 10-6 nonconference softball victory over at Hill-Murray on Friday, April 7.

Torri Chute, Tatiana Tabucol and Katie Kurzejeski each supplied three hits to power Stillwater, which batted around while build a 4-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Tabucol doubled and Emma Murphy, Cleo Nystrom and Emma White each followed with hits in the first.

“It was a good way to start the ballgame,” Ponies coach Bob Beedle said.

The Pioneers answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, but the Ponies responded with runs in the bottom of the inning. Chute delivred an RBI double — one of her three doubles in the game — as Stillwater pushed its lead to 5-2.

A walk, base hit and an error helped the Ponies break the game open with a five-run third inning — which included back-to-back RBI doubles from Chute and Tabucol.

“Chute has really been stinging the ball,” Beedle said. “She hit .520 for us last year, so she’s no secret.”

None of the six runs charged to Murphy were earned as Stillwater was sloppy in the field with five errors.

“Hill-Murray was a quality win for us,” Beedle said. “I was disappointed in the five errors. We didn’t catch and throw it, but we cleaned that up against Roseville and Murphy really had control and command of her pitches.”

Still 4 1 5 0 0 0 0 — 10 15 5

H-M 2 0 0 0 1 3 0 — 6 10 2

WP: Emma Murphy 7-ip, 10-h, 6-r, 0-er, 2-bb, 6-so

LP: Jayna Witzany 3-ip, 11-h, 10-r, 5-er, 2-bb, 1-so

Leading hitters: St, Alex Ehde 1×4, Olivia Walsh 1×4, Torri Chute 3×5 (3 2B), Tatiana Tabucol 3×5 (2 2B), Emma Murphy 1×4, Cleo Nystrom 1×3, Emily White 1×3, Katie Kurzejeski 3×3 and Amelia Kraft 1×1; H-M, Alli Clark 3×5, Shannon Leahy 2×3 and Amber Peterson 2×3.