Prep softball: Cherry just misses perfection, but wins state tournament quarterfinal
NORTH MANKATO, Minn. -- Kacey Herring's bid for perfect game immortality ended one out shy, but the Cherry Tigers held on to the most important statistic: a 1-0 victory over Browerville in a Minnesota Class A high school state tournament quarterf...
NORTH MANKATO, Minn. - Kacey Herring’s bid for perfect game immortality ended one out shy, but the Cherry Tigers held on to the most important statistic: a 1-0 victory over Browerville in a Minnesota Class A high school state tournament quarterfinal today at Caswell Park.
Herring mowed down the first 20 batters, including 14 by strikeout, before hitting Haley Piotrowski with a pitch with two outs in the seventh inning. Only three pitchers have been credited with a perfect game in state tournament history, with just one coming in the last decade.
Third baseman Crystal Pearson followed with a single to end the no-hitter and forced Herring to focus on retiring second baseman Kale Knutson to preserve the win. Herring struck out Knutson on three pitches as the Tigers advanced to a 5 p.m. semifinal vs. New Ulm Cathedral, a 13-0, six-inning winner over New York Mills in another quarterfinal.
“Kacey’s performance was the kind of performance we needed to get through this first game,” Cherry coach Darrell Bjerklie said. “We had problems this morning scoring runs. We’re going to go have a talk and see if I can fix that.”
Cherry (23-4) struggled hitting off Browerville pitcher Makenna Hegseth, who brought a no-hitter into the sixth inning.
“I challenged the seniors,” Bjerklie said. “I said, ‘It’s time to step up and do something this game. You guys are the leaders and are the reason we are down here.’ We’re going to need to hit the ball better to get past New Ulm Cathedral.”
Senior infielder Heidi Olson singled to lead off the sixth, advanced to second on Rayanna Peterson’s single and scored on senior catcher Logan Anderson’s single to give Cherry’s its lone run.
Herring’s one-hitter was the 58th in tournament history and the third by a Cherry hurler, following Sara Sauter in 2011 and Shaina Novak in 2012.
“I felt good about my pitching performance, but batting not so good,” Herring said. “We’d like to get our bats going earlier, but that didn’t happen. I’m sure we’ll come through with them in the second game.”