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Panthers rely on clutch hitting to defeat Bagley

Lauren Naeve connected for one of her three hits in Park Rapids' 6-4 win over Bagley Thursday.

Clutch hitting and a solid pitching performance helped the Park Rapids fastpitch softball open the season with a victory Thursday afternoon.

Two-out, two-run singles by Katelyn Hilmanowski and Ashley Thelen sparked the offense and backed Olivia Vaadeland's eight-strikeout performance as the Panthers defeated Bagley 6-4 at the Area High School field.

The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on a walk to Lexi Burlingame and an RBI double by Lauren Naeve.

In the third, a single by Hilmanowski, a wild pitch and a two-out RBI single by Vaadeland gave the Panthers a 2-0 lead.

Naeve singled and Thelen reached on a fielder's choice to open the fourth inning. After a sacrifice bunt by Erika Jerger, Hilmanowski lined a two-run single to give Park Rapids a 4-0 advantage.

Bagley scored a run in the top of the fifth before the Panthers responded with two more runs in the bottom of the inning. Two out singles by Burlingame and Naeve and a wild pitch set up Thelen's two-run single.

The Flyers scored three runs in the seventh, but stranded runners on second and third to end the game.

Naeve went 3 for 3 and Hilmanowski went 2 for 3 to lead the Panthers' eight-hit attack. Vaadeland allowed eight hits and two walks.