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PREP SOFTBALL | ST. ANSGAR 9, OSAGE 2

Saints oust newly-ranked Green Devils, split county rivalry

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The feeling of comfortability never hits Lance Schutjer. Even when his St. Ansgar softball team was up 5-0 after the first three innings on Friday night, he never wanted to let up.

"We got to play a full seven, otherwise teams are going to come back," the Saints head coach said. "No lead is ever safe."

Fueled by the arm of Josie Juhl and back-to-back solo home runs in the fifth, St. Ansgar split the Mitchell County rivalry against Class 2A No. 13 Osage with a 9-2 triumph at Osage High School in a Top of Iowa East battle.

The Green Devils, ranked for the first time this season, saw their eight-game winning streak snapped.

"We just got to turn the page," Osage head coach Nick Hemann said. "We did not do what we normally do at the plate. We're going to have a lot more opportunities, we got to have a really short memory."

It was the Saints (13-6, 6-5 TIC-East) that coasted towards the end of the first meeting and they eventually lost. In the second meeting, they took advantage of their oppositions mishaps.

They scored four runs on a couple hits and a handful of errors to open up their lead.

"We take advantage as much as we can," senior first baseman Emma Hicken said. "Our coaches stress that a lot to jump on them quick. We are a quick team and I think that helps us a lot."

Come the fifth, St. Ansgar chased Osage ace Ashley Halbach out of the circle.

Catcher Abby Hemann belted a solo home run to leadoff the frame then outfielder Mallory Juhl deposited a pitch over the left field fence that prompted the end of Halbach's outing for a 7-0 lead.

It added another run in the fifth and an insurance run crossed home in the sixth.

"It is all coming together at a good time in the season," Hemann said.

That was more than enough for freshman Josie Juhl.

The right-hander struck out the side in the first to catapult her day that featured nine strikeouts. She wiggled out of trouble in the last two innings to halt an Osage comeback.

"She had a good start tonight," Hemann said.

"She's learned not to let things rattle her," Schutjer added. "You never really see emotion. That's going to help her down the road."

Coach Hemann was expecting more changeups from Josie Juhl, but his batters so a lot of rise balls and they couldn't keep up. He noted several times afterwards he tipped his cap to the Green Devils (15-3, 6-3) rival.

"Hats off to Coach Schutjer, they were ready to go," he said. "They deserved and we did not."

Osage avoided the shutout with two runs in the sixth. Mari Fox roped a pair of hits, but its top two hitters in Taylor Klobassa and Leah Grimm went a combined 0-for-7 at the dish.

Hicken recorded three hits in three plate appearances for St. Ansgar while Hemann and Kennedy Schwiesow finished with two hits each. Kinsey Anderson drove in two runs and McKenna Norby scored twice.

"It was a total team effort," Hicken said.

Zach Martin is a sports reporter for the Globe Gazette. Reach him via email at zachary.martin@globegazette.com and follow him on Twitter @zach_martin95.

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