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Softball: Newberry goes deep in season opener

With the pitching distance moved back, Minnesota high school softball teams are likely going to take some time to see how the game plays differently this season.

Some teams have already had their chance at live competition. Rosemount got its first test on Monday.

The Irish, though, were playing a team with two games under its belt at the new distance.

Along with having to work out the natural first-game kinks, Rosemount was further behind its first time out.

The Irish lost 5-3 at Bloomington Jefferson.

"It was a good game," new Rosemount coach Tiffany Rose said. "Jefferson was playing their third game and it was our first, so you have to take some of those things into consideration. We competed well."

The game offered some lessons that should serve the Irish in the future.

The Jaguars scored two runs in the first and one in the second to take a lead, but Irish pitcher Rachel Hoeppner adjusted to the hitters and longer pitching distance.

She ended up pitching the complete six innings, giving up the five runs on 10 hits. She struck out four batters and had one walk.

"She threw OK," Rose said. "She settled in a little bit after they got some big hits off her early. They had three games to see pitching. It was her first time out. You don't try to make excuses. You have to come out ready, but I thought she battled well.

"We talked after the game, they scored 12 runs their first game and 11 their second game. She held them to five runs. You look at their past two games and you feel good with where she is at."

The offense also adjusted during its first game.

Rosemount's runs came in the sixth inning as Makayla Newberry connected for a three-run home run.

Paige Cero started the inning with a single and was bunted to second by Hannah Essleman. Ali Fromme reached on an error and Newberry connected for the home run.

"I didn't think it was over," Rose said. "I was standing there and didn't think it was over. Coaches laugh because you can tell if it's a home run the second it leaves the bat, but from where I was standing it didn't think it would go over the fence. It was exciting. You want those things for your seniors. It was fun and got us back into the game."

Cero finished 2 of 4 hitting. Hoeppner and Laura Bodurtha had hits.

The Irish host Lakeville North today in a rescheduled game from Wednesday.

Rose is excited to see her team build on the positive aspects of the first game.

"A ton of great things happened," Rose said. "Melissa Seldon threw a runner out at home plate from left field. Paige Cero made a diving catch at second and threw out a runner at third. Some great stuff happened for our first game. I thought, with brand new coaches, they did an excellent job. If that was a preview to our season, it's going to be a good year."