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Kernels wrap up state tournament with fourth-place finish

SIOUX FALLS -- The Mitchell fastpitch softball team took fourth place in the state Class B softball tournament over the weekend.

The Kernels went 2-2 in the 11-team double-elimination tournament and lost to Lennox in the third-fourth place game Sunday.

"You don't want to say you're happy with fourth place, but no matter what we did in the tournament, to have the type of year we had, it was a very successful season and tournament," Mitchell head coach Jim Misiaszek said. "The kids aren't happy with fourth place. Everybody wants to win everything, but you remind them every team but one ends the weekend in a loss."

In an elimination game, Mitchell defeated Vermillion, which is the same team that defeated the Kernels in the second round against the same pitcher in Jenny Bye.

A scoreless game after seven innings forced international rules to be played, meaning the final batter who was out in the previous inning started at second base with no outs.

As Mitchell was the home team, Vermillion had the opening chance to score. After a passed ball by Mitchell moved the Vermillion runner up a base, Kernels' pitcher Kristin Miller struck out the first batter of the inning. Then, in the next at-bat, the batter hit a grounder to short for an out and the runner on third attempted to go home. First baseman Chelsea Moody threw what Misiaszek called a "perfect-strike" throw to catcher Ashley Misiaszek to tag the runner for the third out.

In the bottom half of the eighth, Kristin Miller was placed on second, and with two outs and on a 0-2 pitch, Misiaszek hit had the game-winning, walk-off RBI. The Kernels won the game, 1-0.

"That was probably the best moment ever for Mitchell softball as an organization with how young we are," Misiaszek said. "To come back and win a game like that and beat the type of pitcher we beat was something special."

Mitchell fell to Lennox 5-1 in their final game of the season.

The Kernels' Andrea Sheppard-Kauwalu opened the game with a walk and a stolen base and Kelli Schlimgen singled her in for a 1-0 lead.

Schlimgen and Natasha Stern had the only two hits for Mitchell.

Miller was tagged with the loss in the four-inning game, which was shortened due to the time limit. She allowed four hits and four earned runs while striking out three.

Mitchell's tournament opened Saturday in the second round after receiving a bye in the first round.

In the second round, the Kernels got their first look at Vermillion and Bye and lost 2-1.

Sheppard-Kauwalu hit the fifth pitch of the game to the right-center field gap for a trip to open the game and Schlimgen followed that hit with an RBI single for a 1-0 lead.

Vermillion responded in the third inning with a two-out, two-RBI bloop single, which was its only runs of the game. Mitchell lost 2-1.

Schlimgen started the game and allowed three hits. She stuck out two batters in four innings pitched. She was tabbed with the loss. Miller relieved Schlimgen and faced the minimum six batters in two innings.

"We didn't want their offensive players to see our pitcher more than two times through the lineup," Misiaszek said. "If one pitcher can get through the lineup with her good stuff, we wanted to limit her liability, and all weekend that worked for us."

In the Kernels' first game on Sunday, Mitchell downed Madison 4-3. They got three straight hits to open the game and four hits in the inning to open with a 4-0 lead.

"Offensively, we got some hits when we needed to help us advance," Misiaszek said.

Miller scattered three hits in the start while recording the win.

Sheppard-Kauwalu went 1-for-3 with two RBIs.

Sheppard-Kauwalu and Kristin Miller were each named to the all-tournametn team for the first time, while Schlimgen and Ashley Misiaszek both made the honor for the second consecutive year.

Mitchell ended its season 9-15.