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Willmar tops SC Tech to open season

Willmar pitcher Hanna Pederson, left, throws out a St. Cloud Tech runner at first after fielding the bunt during their season-opening softball game Thursday at Ridgewater College in Willmar. Tribune photo by T.J. Bartelt

WILLMAR -- Willmar started off slow, but steady, then finished with a flourish in beating St. Cloud Tech 7-2 Thursday in Central Lakes Conference softball action.

The Cardinals opened the season on the Ridgewater College field, due to wet conditions at the high school.

Willmar scored single runs in the first three innings, then plated three in the sixth to pull away from a 4-2 advantage on Sara Kallhoff's inside-the-park, three-run home run to right-center field. She finished with four hits in as many at-bats, scored three runs and also tripled.

"The first three or four runs, we manufactured on our own," said Willmar coach Brent Pederson. "We took walks, stole bases and did the right things."

Willmar pitcher Hanna Pederson seemed to get stronger after the first few innings. She allowed two runs on five hits, struck out seven and walked three.

The defense committed one error.

"There's always room for improvement," Pederson said. "In many ways, we have a young, inexperienced team. There are a lot of new positions. We had only one error and after that they played heads-up ball. We hit the ball harder than I expected."

Haylee Hastad, Brittney Hastad and Megan Rudie each had one hit for Willmar. Chelsey Wierschem drove in two runs.

Willmar 7, St. Cloud Tech 2

St. Cloud Tech 000 101 0 -- 2 5 2

Willmar 111 013 x -- 7 7 1

HITTING - St. Cloud Tech: Krista Schaefer 3-for-3; Sarrah Lang 1-for-2, rbi; Hanna Laudenbach 1-for-3, rbi ... Willmar: Sara Kallhoff 4-for-4, 3 runs, 3b, 3-run HR, 3 rbi; Haylee Hastad 1-for-3, 2 runs; Brittany Hastad 1-for-3, rbi; Megan Rudie 1-for-3, 2b

PITCHING (ip-h-r-er-bb-so) -- St. Cloud Tech: Amber Kopp (L) 6-7-7-6-3-5 ... Willmar: Hanna Pederson (W) 7-5-2-2-3-7