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Panthers sweep Mid-State doubleheader from W-DC

Wadena-Deer Creek prevented the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team from winning the Mid-State Conference title the last two years.

After Tuesday's doubleheader sweep, the Panthers can't blame W-DC for costing them the conference title this season.

The Panthers improved to 4-0 in conference play by defeating W-DC 3-2 in the first game and 12-6 in the second game of a conference doubleheader at Wadena.

W-DC, which captured the last two conference titles by going 12-0 last season and 11-1 in 2008, held a 2-1 lead going into the seventh inning of the first game before the Panthers rallied.

The Panthers also rallied in the second game by overcoming a 6-4 deficit to complete the sweep and take over first place in the conference standings. Park Rapids finished as the conference runner-up each of the last two seasons with a 9-3 record in 2009 and an 8-4 record in 2008.

"Wadena has kept us from wining the conference title over the last two years," said Park Rapids head coach Marion Goeden. "This is a very focused team right now. We realize taking the conference is totally in our control."

The Panthers put themselves in position to win the conference title with a dramatic seventh-inning rally in the opener.

After five scoreless innings, Alyssa Carlson singled to lead off the sixth and scored on Leeza Tostenson's two-out single to give Park Rapids a 1-0 lead.

W-DC responded in the bottom of the inning as Megan Popp's two-run single with two outs put the home team in front.

In the seventh, Shelby Weckwerth singled with one out and Jenny Palm walked with two outs. Carlson's single to center plated the game-winning runs.

"What an exciting finish," said Goeden. "That shows our integrity to battle back."

Carlson and Carson Christenson each went 2 for 3 as the Panthers were held to six hits. Brie Warne picked up the win, allowing two runs on seven hits with 11 strikeouts.

In the second game, W-DC took advantage of six Park Rapids errors to build a 6-4 lead before the Panthers rallied for the sweep.

Tostenson sparked the offense by going 5 for 5 with six RBI. Tostenson also blasted her fourth home run of the season to break the single-season school record of three held by Amy Prenevost, Janessa Wolff, Amber Rowland and Heather Tretbar. Tostenson also tied Prenevost's career record of six homers.

Four errors led to three unearned runs in the second and two errors led to three more unearned runs in the third as W-DC claimed a 6-4 lead.

An RBI single by Palm in the first and a two-run home run by Tostenson and an RBI single by Amber Sunram led to three runs in the third for the Panthers.

Park Rapids tied the game in the fourth before taking the lead for good by scoring once in the fifth, three times in the sixth and two times in the seventh.

Tostenson's two-run single tied the game at 6-6 in the fourth before Weckwerth singled and scored what proved to be the winning run on a single by Anna Grimes in the fifth.

Singles by Tostenson, Sunram and Weckwerth led to three runs in the sixth before singles by Carlson and Tostenson produced the final two runs in the seventh.

Sunram and Weckwerth both went 2 for 4 as the Panthers finished with 14 hits. Warne also went the distance in the second game, allowing no earned runs on seven hits with six strikeouts over seven innings.