Sydney Higley (right) fist bumps Zumbrota-Mazeppa head softball coach Kevin Nelson after hitting her second home run against Goodhue on May 7, 2021. Jake Pfeifer / Republican Eagle

GOODHUE — Zumbrota-Mazeppa continued its hot start to the season with a double-digit win over Goodhue on Friday. The Cougars, which have won eight of their first nine games this season, allowed just one hit in their 15-0 victory.

Z-M’s potent lineup was firing on all cylinders as each batter got on base at least once. Avery Steffen kicked things off with a leadoff single in the first inning, followed by a single by Matti Stensland. Sydney Higley then smashed a three-run home run to left field, providing a clue into how the rest of the game would go.

“Syd’s hitting the ball extremely well right now, that home run got out of there in a hurry,” Z-M head softball coach Kevin Nelson said. “She’s making some really good decisions — and they all are — they’re not getting themselves out at the plate.”

Goodhue pitcher Torrie Rehder settled in after that first inning, allowing just one run over the next two innings before things got away from her in the fourth. Sarah Mensink led the fourth inning off with a walk, followed by two consecutive singles to load the bases for Steffen with no outs. Steffen hit a sac fly, but a dropped third strike and Goodhue error kept the inning alive, allowing the Cougars to score four more runs to build a 9-0 lead.

Facing the risk of being 10-runned, Goodhue swapped out pitchers in the fifth inning, handing the ball to Emily Doerhoefer. The switch didn’t work as hoped for the Wildcats as six more runs came across, headlined by Higley’s second home run of the game that was sent straight into the scoreboard out in center field.

“I told the girls if we can send nine batters up there that keep attacking the ball the way that we have, that’s hard on a pitcher. She doesn’t get any innings off then,” Nelson said. “We scored in all but one inning again tonight and that’s been pretty standard for us this year.”

Pitching stats: Z-M — Steffen (5 IP, 6 K, 1 H); Goodhue — Rehder (4 IP, 1 K, 10 H, 8 ER); Doerhoefer — (1 IP, 1 K, 1 BB, 5 H, 6 ER)

Batting stats: Z-M — Steffen (1 H, 1 RBI), Lola Wagner (2 H, 3 R), Stensland (3 H, 2 R, 1 RBI), Higley (5 RBI, 3 H, 2 HR, 2 R), Gracie Flicek (1 2B), Tenlee Magnuson (1 H), Mensink (2 R, 1 H, 1 BB), Rianne Buck (2 H, 2 R, 1 2B), Kailey Cooper (1 H, 1 R)

Z-M, 8-1, and Goodhue, 6-3, are next scheduled to play Monday. The Cougars are traveling to Kasson-Mantorville and the Wildcats travel to Stewartville.

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