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Softball: Defense still a strong suit for Irish softball team

When Rosemount softball coach Jim Matheson summarizes his team's recent play, it sounds like a fairly simple examination.

Matheson's assessment also provides a strong blueprint for success in the playoffs.

"Our defense has been as good as we could possibly expect all year long," Matheson said. "We have not made mistakes in the field and that has kept us in every game. (Pitcher Rachel Hoeppner) has taken a beating physically. She's been hit in three straight games on the same knee. She's coming back from that the best she can. She's bouncing back and doing as good as we can expect out of her.

"If we can hit we we'll be tough to beat. If we don't hit, it comes down to who is going to make the first mistake."

The past week emphasized Matheson's belief.

The Irish lost 3-0 to Eagan last week. Last weekend, they went 2-1 in a tournament at Benilde-St. Margaret's, taking third place. Rosemount beat Totino-Grace 3-2 before a 10-0 loss to No. 3 Hastings. A 4-1 win against the host team gave the Irish third place.

On Monday, Rosemount (14-5, 7-3 Lake) beat Eastview, 7-4.

The Irish jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Eastview with Hoeppner pitching. Hoeppner allowed nine hits and four runs, two of which were earned.

"We kind of figure when we score four we shouldn't lose," Matheson said. "They came back in the fourth. They knocked Rachel around pretty good, but she got it back and shut them down the rest of the way and we scored three more.

"The hitting was better. We had a big first and fifth innings and not much in the middle or the end."

Kayla Goehring had three hits and two runs in the game. Chelsea Wenzel drove in two runs and scored another. Kelcy Pollock had two RBI. Makayla Newberry had two runs scored and an RBI.

The unexpected came to haunt the Irish against Hastings last week.

"It was the one game we didn't play well in the field," Matheson said. "We had some substitutions with different kids in that game. Melissa Seldon pitched. She pitched well but we didn't catch the ball behind her."

Seldon pitched two of the three games during the tournament, earning her first varsity win against Benilde-St. Margaret's. Hoeppner earned the win against Totino-Grace.

Ali Fromme had four hits in the tournament to lead the Irish. She had two RBI and a run scored. Summer Lindelien, Laura Bodurtha, and Meghan Schuster each had two hits.

Eagan pitcher Sara Moulton again had Rosemount's number last week. The Irish had two hits against the familiar pitcher. They earned their first win against Moulton last year in the regular season.

"She's got a pretty good streak against Rosemount," Matheson said.

The teams were scoreless heading into the sixth before Hoeppner was hit by a batted ball.

"She didn't have her velocity," Matheson said. "I don't think she could push off on the leg. They had a big sixth and then she recovered and shut them down."