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Prep softball: Peterson pitches Northwestern past Spooner

Tigers freshman struck out nine batters for the conference win

Northwestern softball players in action.
Northwestern’s Ellie Peterson delivers a pitch during a game on Monday, May 2, 2022, against Spooner.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
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Northwestern’s Ellie Peterson was fired up.

The Tigers’ starting pitcher gave a fist pump and let off a scream after she struck out Spooner’s Justine Swanson to finish off an 8-4 Heart O’ North conference win over the Rails on Monday in Brule.

The freshman fanned nine batters over seven innings and allowed seven hits. She wasn’t perfect, but she was lights out when it counted for Northwestern.

With runners on second and third in the fourth inning with one out and Northwestern up 7-1, Peterson ended the threat with back-to-back strikeouts. In both cases, Peterson used her rise ball pitch to get the third strike, a throw along with her curveball she’s been working on this season.

“I’ve worked really hard on those, “ Peterson said. “Those move a lot and they’re good pitches. I just knew I had to trust myself, trust my pitches and just throw as hard as I can.”

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In the fifth inning, with the Tigers still leading by six, Natalie Martin hit an RBI single and Jasmine Wilson hit a two-RBI triple on consecutive plays to cut the lead to 7-4.

After a quick timeout, Peterson gathered herself and got the next two batters out to end the threat and keep Northwestern in front. They weren’t strikeouts, but that’s not what matters to her.

Northwestern softball players in action.
Northwestern’s Emma Wennersten slides into home safe during Monday’s game against Spooner at the Brule ballfields May 2, 2022. Northwestern won 8-4.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

“I was thinking that I just need to throw strikes and hit my spots and I know my teammates are behind me backing me up,” Peterson said. “The strikeouts to me are an added bonus.”

After a quiet first inning, Northwestern started taking advantage of any mistake in the field or by Spooner pitcher Emmy Romportl.

Romportl allowed two singles and two walks, one of which drove in a run, in the second inning to tie the game at one. After getting two outs, senior Ruby Moore came up to bat.

Moore, a West Texas A&M recruit, drove the ball up the middle and into the outfield, scoring two more runs and putting the Tigers in front for good.

“We needed to pull ahead and we need some momentum, therefore I needed to put the ball in play in the outfield,” Moore said. “I actually had help from my dugout — they told me it was an inside pitch. I took that advice and put it in play the best I could.”

Northwestern softball players in action.
Northwestern shortstop Ruby Moore catches a flyball for an out during the game against Spooner on Monday, May 2, 2022.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune

Romportl loaded the bases again in the third inning and two wild pitches led to two more runs and RBIs from Andrea Schlais and Annalee Sutherland gave the Tigers a 7-1 lead.

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“Northwestern is a team we know if we give them opportunities, they’re going to take advantage of it,” Spooner coach Brian Amys said. “The one inning when they scored a bunch of runs, we had a walk, we had a drop pop fly and we pulled our foot from the plate when we had a force out at home. When you give those opportunities and have those mistakes, they’re a good enough team that they’re going to take advantage and pile on.”

The game was similar to the game Friday in Spooner, when Northwestern again jumped out to a 7-1 lead before the Rails got going with four runs in the bottom of the fifth.

“Our girls had a ton of confidence because toward the end of that game, we started playing well and hitting the ball,” Amys said. “It took us a little bit to get going again tonight — we had the bases loaded a couple of times and just couldn’t come up with a hit. Their defense, we had a couple of hard hit balls that they made plays on in the outfield.

Northwestern (9-0) will play Ashland at 5 p.m. Tuesday in Brule.

Jamey Malcomb has been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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