Tigers win local battle with SpartansFriend led Northwestern's offensive attack with three runs and three RBIs
The Northwestern High School Tigers picked up local bragging rights with a 5-1 win over the Superior High School softball team Thursday evening in Brule.
“It’s exciting and always fun to play Superior,” NHS coach Scott Janigo said. “This is the fourth year we’ve been playing now, and it’s fun for the girls because they know each other and play against each other in other sports. I know each one of our girls gets up for a game like this.”
Shelby Schultz and Aliex Friend combined in the win for the Tigers, scattering seven Spartan hits with six strikeouts and three walks. Schultz pitched the first five innings to pick up the win. She then returned to the mound in the sixth inning and retired five of seven batters to pick up the save.
“It’s nice to have two good pitchers you can go to,” Janigo said. “They’ve given us that 1-2 punch all season long, and fortunately it worked out for us today.”
Superior had scoring chances early, stranding runners on third base in the second and third innings.
Northwestern broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third inning. Aliex Friend led off with a single, moved to second on a wild pitch, third on a sac bunt and then scored on another wild pitch.
The Tigers took a 2-0 led in the fourth inning when walks to Hailey Eller and Abby Schulz were followed by Friend’s RBI single.
With the Spartans threatening to score once again in the fifth inning with runners on second and third, the Tigers made their pitching move, replacing Schultz with Friend, who struck out the next two batters.
The Tigers loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Alex Bodendorfer followed with a single, but Superior centerfielder Rachal Fregin threw out the lead runner at the plate.
After the Spartans replaced starting pitcher Alison Wainionpaa with Taylor Thompson, Alie Larson belted a two-run double to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead. Abby Schulz walked to load the bases again, and Friend followed with a RBI single for a 5-0 lead.
The Spartans finally got on the board in the top of the sixth when Thompson doubled and scored on Kaitlyn Mergen’s single. After Superior’s Ari Jago walked, the Tigers went back to starting pitcher Schultz, who struck out the next two batters to end Superior’s threat.
Superior drew two walks in the seventh inning, but Schultz eventually retired the side to pick up the save in a game where she was also the winning pitcher.
Friend had three of Northwestern’s seven hits. She also knocked in two runs.
Karaline Greene was also 2-for-3 and Bodendorfer and Larson singled.
Superior had eight hits, two by Taylor Johnson and Mergen and one each by Emily Hansen, Thompson, Kari Miller and Fregin.
The Spartans are back in action at the Bloomer Tournament at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Northwestern hosts Duluth East at 10 a.m. and Ashland at 2 p.m. on Saturday East and Ashland will play at noon. The Tigers wrap up their season at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday at Chequamegon.
Northwestern was recently awarded the No. 3 seed in the upcoming WIAA playoffs and will host No. 6 Unity on May 24.
Pairings for Division 1 schools, including Superior, will be done this weekend.