Panthers capture tournament title
For the eighth time in 15 tries, the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team captured the title at its own tournament.
The Panthers defeated Perham 16-5 in five innings, Bagley 11-3 and Norman County West 7-0 Saturday at Olson Fields to win the tournament title for the first time since 2007.
Bagley defeated Pine River-Backus 7-1 for third place, Perham defeated East Grand Forks 4-3 for fifth place and Crookston defeated Nevis 8-6 for seventh place in this eight-team tournament.
The three wins lifted Park Rapids to 4-0 on the season entering Thursday's home game with Perham.
Panthers defeat Perham
Defeating Perham in the quarterfinals proved doubly important since that game also served as the Mid-State Conference opener.
The Panthers used an eight-run fourth inning to advance to the semifinals.
Singles by Ashley Thelen and Lauren Naeve sparked a three-run first inning before singles by Morgan Dean and Lexi Burlingame and a triple by Katie Just sparked a five-run second as the Panthers claimed an 8-5 lead.
Singles by Thelen, Naeve, Olivia Vaadeland, Just, Shania Johnson and Nakita Buckanaga and a three-run homer by Thelen sparked the eight-run fourth as the Panthers ended this game early via the 10-run rule.
Thelen went 3 for 4 with three runs and three RBI, Naeve went 2 for 3 with three runs and two RBI, and Just went 2 for 3 with two RBI.
Vaadeland went the distance, allowing five unearned runs on four hits.
Panthers defeat Bagley
A six-run fifth inning led the Panthers past Bagley and into the championship game.
A triple by Vaadeland, an RBI single by Katelyn Hilmanowski and a sacrifice fly by Erika Jerger gave the Panthers a 3-1 lead in the second.
After Just scored on Jerger's BRI single in the fourth for a 4-1 lead, Bagley scored twice in the bottom of the inning to close the gap to 4-3.
The Panthers scored six times in the fifth to take control. Two errors and run-scoring singles by Vaadeland, Just and Buckanaga pushed the Panthers' lead to 10-3.
Caitlan Isaacson walked and scored the final run in the seventh.
Vaadeland went 2 for 4 and Jerger went 2 for 3 to lead the Panthers' eight-hit attack. Vaadeland again went the distance, allowing one earned run on four hits while striking out 10.
Panthers blank NCW for title
Vaadeland struck out eight and threw a five-hit shutout as the Panthers blanked NCE to win the title.
Burlingame scored what proved to be the game-winning run on Just's RBI grounder in the fourth.
The Panthers scored the game's final six runs in the fifth. A single by Jerger, an RBI double by Buckanaga, a triple by Thelen, an RBI double by Naeve, and a two-run homer by Burlingame sparked that inning.
Naeve went 2 for 3 to pace the Panthers' five-hit attack.