By Jason Groth
The Nashwauk-Keewatin Spartan softball team took to the diamond on Friday afternoon missing several key players as they took on the Grand Rapids Thunderhawks. However, the Spartans gave the Thunderhawks fits throughout the game but fell short, 4-0, at the Grand Rapids Sports Complex.
Spartan pitcher Aubrey Nelson frustrated the Thunderhawk line-up for much of the contest, however, the Thunderhawks struck in the late innings in picking up the victory against the Spartans. Both Nelson and Grand Rapids’ Meghan Pehrson were on their game early.
Nelson suffered the loss on the mound. She allowed four runs on nine hits while striking out seven Thunderhawk batters. She didn’t walk a batter in the game.
Grand Rapids threatened early but Nelson worked out of trouble and the Thunderhawks stranded four runners in scoring position in the first three innings. However, that streak came to an end in the fourth. Lindsey Frazier singled and scored on a triple by Kayla Barrett which gave the Thunderhawks the lead.
Some misfortune in the fifth hurt Nelson on the mound. Schmoll laid down a perfect bunt to start the inning and quickly stole second, just beating a strong throw from catcher Meg Justison. Sara Westerberg followed with a bunt single and the throw went to first and Schmoll hustled around third and beat the throw home to make it 2-0. Ali Geislinger followed with a ground rule double to right field to make it 3-0.
Barrett tripled for the second time in the game in the sixth inning and eventually scored on a ground out by Maya Schroeder which made it 4-0 in the sixth.
Pehrson was on her game for the Thunderhawks and limited the Spartan offense. Pehrson allowed only two hits in the game, both to Justison. Pehrson struck out ten batters in the contest and didn’t walk a batter in the complete game victory.
Schmoll and Barrett led the way at the plate for Grand Rapids. Schmoll had three hits while Barrett had three hits, including two triples.
The Spartans prepare themselves for a very busy week in which they will play six games in five days. The Spartans are scheduled to play Littlefork-Big Falls, Mountain Iron-Buhl, Cromwell, Floodwood, Northland and Hill City.