CHASKA – When you’ve been around the game of softball as long as Watertown-Mayer coach Scot Isakson has, you always seem to have a few tricks up your sleeve. With 15 years of coaching experience under his belt, Isakson and the Royals caught the SW Christian Stars off guard in the first round Section 5AA softball tournament opener.
Watertown-Mayer coach Scott Isakson had the perfect game plan as the Royals cruised to a 9-1 victory over SW Christian Monday evening.
“We’ve played small ball on and off throughout the season this year,” Isakson said. “It depends on the team that you play. You don’t necessarily want to show it that early because you want to be able to go back to it later. When we played them before, we didn’t bunt at all. We got our hacks in knowing that today, we could come back and potentially get a few bunts down and move some runners around, and it worked out. The girls have really done a good job of that.”
The small ball strategy put in play by the Royals caught the Stars off guard early and often as the Royals used their speed on the base paths to cruise to a 9-1 victory and keep their season alive Monday afternoon. The Royals took advantage of errors, walks, and perfect bunts to score nine runs despite just having four hits as a team. They scored at least one run in each of the first three innings as they got the leadoff batter on in each inning which came via three different players.
“That just kind of speaks to our team and how hard they work,” Isakson said. “This season, we’ve had five total practices outside. Only four of them were on our home field. We’re finally starting to find a groove. We’ve played 19 games in the last three weeks. We’re starting to play some better ball.”
“We came out and kind of thought that they would have the mentality that they’re going to beat us again,” junior Janessa Berrios said. “We just had to prove them wrong. We were just ready to play. It was a good battle.”
While Berrios and the Royals were able to jump out to an early lead thanks to a run in the first and two more in the second, the Royals only gained more confidence as the game went on as they felt in control.
“It definitely makes us a lot happier and gets our confidence up at the plate and in the field,” Berrios said about getting an early lead.
Junior Nikki McDonald squares up for a bunt during Watertown-Mayer’s 9-1 victory over SW Christian.
While the Royals were enjoying a 3-0 lead after two innings, the Stars weren’t going to go down without a fight. After W-M’s starter Karly Swanson walked a pair of batters to open the inning, Isakson didn’t waste any time going to his reliever Morgan Matson. The move paid off big time for the Royals, as Matson struck out the next three batters in order to get the Royals out of the inning without allowing a run.
“Those two have really done a great job of supporting each other,” Isakson said about his pitchers. “When something goes wrong, those two have been able to flop, and they pick each other up really well. That’s a nice benefit to have both of those two to lean on.”
Swanson and Matson did a masterful job pitching for the Royals in the win allowing just the one run. They also held the heart of the Stars’ lineup in check, which was their problem in a 4-1 loss to Stars earlier this season. The top four hitters for the Stars went 1-for-9 with walk and six strikeouts as Swanson and Matson held them in check throughout.
“That’s just it,” Isakson said. “The last time we played them, that’s where all four of their runs came from. We did help them with two of those runs, but when you keep those top four hitters in check on any team, that’s when you can be successful.”
Janessa Berrios had two hits and scored two runs to lead the Royals to a big win in the fist round of the Section 5AA tournament,
With the win, the Royals advance to the double elimination portion of the Section 5AA tournament. With just eight teams remaining, the Royals know it will be a battle throughout to get where they want to.
“We’re pretty excited,” Berrios said. “We don’t want the season to end. We’re not ready for it to end.”
Even with names like Maple Lake and Norwood Young America standing in the way, Isakson knows how unpredictable things can get this time of year when a team gets hot and plays well.
“That’s exactly right,” Isakson said. You pull of an upset and get a little bit of confidence. You just get some things rolling. You never know what’s going to happen. You can play for quiet a while if you want. That’s the goal.”
Watertown-Mayer will face top-seeded Maple Lake Tuesday afternoon on the road at 4:30 p.m. The Irish are a perfect 20-0 this season, and the top-ranked team in Class AA.
SECTION 5AA SOFTBALL FINALS
(9) Watertown-Mayer 9, (8) SW Christian 1
(4) Rockford 17, (13) Holy Family 0
(12) HLWW 8, (5) Spectrum 7
(3) LItchfield 15, (14) Brooklyn Center 0
(2) NYA 23, (15) MPLS Henry 0
(7) G-SL 19, (10) Blake 3
(11) Maranatha 13, (6) Providence Academy 6
SECTION 5AA SOFTBALL MATCHUPS (Tuesday, May 22 – All Games at 4:30 pm)
(9) Watertown-Mayer at (1) Maple Lake
(12) HLWW at (4) Rockford
(11) Maranatha Christian at (3) Litchfield
(7) Glencoe-Silver Lake at (2) NYA
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