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Toppers fall short in softball opener

SOMERSET — Glenwood City got a good pitching performance from senior hurler Leslie Ludtke and played solid defense but was unable to get its offense on track in the season opener in Somerset March 31.

The result was a 4-0 shut out loss to the Spartans in a non-conference tilt.

“Leslie pitched a great game,” said second-year head coach Pete Gaustad. “She fought through some tough situations and got out of bad pitch counts.”

The Hilltoppers’ offense, however, could not find the holes in the Spartans’ defense throughout the seven-inning game.

“We had some opportunities to get some runs in but could not capitalize,” noted Gaustad.

“In the first, we had bases loaded with only one out but just could not get a run across,” added the Glenwood City coach. “We hit the ball well, but it seemed every hit was right at them or they made some great plays.”

With one-out in the top of the first, Mikaela Voeltz and Natalie Gabbert hit back-to-back singles to put a pair on for the Hilltoppers. Leslie Ludtke then drew a walk to load the bases.

But Glenwood City could not get the timely hit that would bring in some runs. It would be a theme that would recur throughout the game.

Nikki Gabbert and Megan Samens grounded out on successive at bats to end the Hilltoppers inning and scoring threat.

Glenwood City bats would remain silent as they went three and out in three of the next four innings.

But Ludtke was able to keep Somerset at bay despite a few tense innings including the first and third innings when the Spartans had a pair of runners in scoring position.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the fourth when Somerset got its lead-off hitter on base with a single and brought her around to score.

Somerset would add another in the fifth and its final two runs in the sixth thanks to a pair of doubles.

Outside the first inning, the Hilltoppers best scoring opportunities came in the sixth and seventh innings when they put runners at first and second. But with two outs against them in both instances, the Toppers flew out to end the inning and then the game.

Despite surrendering 11 hits to the Spartans, Ludtke did not give up a walk and struck out a half dozen in six innings of work.

Glenwood City finished with five hits including 2-for-3 performances by Mikaela Voeltz and Natalie Gabbert.

“I was very proud of the kids in being resilient,” Gaustad said. “We had times where Somerset pressed us but we did not collapse. Last year we would have the one bad inning but against Somerset we did not allow that to happen. Our attitude was very much improved!”

The Toppers opened Dunn-St. Croix action Tuesday (April 7) when they hosted the Boyceville Bulldogs. Glenwood  City will remain home for a Thursday, April 9 game with St. Croix Central before traveling to Colfax the following day to play the Vikings. Then next Monday, April 13, the Toppers will host Mondovi.