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Panthers capture tournament title

Katie Just (12) slid into second base ahead of the throw during Park Rapids' game against Perham Saturday.

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.