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Panthers split, reach Section 8AA semifinals

Leeza Tostenson's game-winning hit in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday at Thief River Falls extended the season for the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team.

The Panthers trailed Thief River Falls 2-0 entering the bottom of the seventh in a Section 8AA quarterfinal game before rallying for a 3-2 win.

Anna Grimes singled with one out and advanced to third with a stolen base and a wild pitch. Alyssa Carlson followed with an RBI single before Brie Warne reached on an error. After Olivia Vaadeland forced Carlson at third on a grounder, Tostenson lined a two-run triple to right field to send the Panthers to the section semifinals.

Park Rapids had plenty of other scoring chances, but left seven runners on base through the first six innings. Tostenson singled in the second and fourth, Carlson singled in the third, Taylor Ondracek and Ashley Domino singled to lead off the fifth, and Vaadeland singled in the sixth to account for Park Rapids' other hits.

Tostenson went 3 for 4 and Carlson went 2 for 4 to lead the Panthers' nine-hit attack. Warne went the distance, allowing eight hits and two earned runs with six strikeouts.

Megan Merriman kept the Panthers from advancing to the section finals by pitching Warroad to a 2-1 victory in Thursday's semifinals.

After Warroad scored two runs on three errors in the top of the fourth, the Panthers scored their only run in the bottom of the inning when Carson Lee Christenson reached on an error, stole second and scored on Vaadeland's RBI single.

Christenson's single in the first and Warne's single in the fourth were the only other hits for the Panthers.

Warne threw another complete game, allowing five hits and two unearned runs.

The Panthers carried a 17-6 overall record into Tuesday's elimination game against Pequot Lakes. The winner of that game faced the loser of the Warroad vs. Ottertail Central game in another elimination game Tuesday. The section championship game will be played Thursday at a site to be determined.