Natalie Novak’s lead-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning eliminated the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team from the Section 8AA tournament.
Novak’s walk-off blast gave Thief River Falls a 5-4 victory in the first round of the section playoffs. The Panthers, who entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed in the North, ended the season with a 10-11 record.
Park Rapids jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning on a walk to Ellie Ulvin, an error, a two-out double by Shailyn Pachel and an RBI single by Chloe Tretbar.
Two errors led to a run in the bottom of the inning as Thief River Falls cut the deficit to 2-1 before a three-run fifth inning put the Prowlers in front. A triple by Haylie Rogalla, an RBI single by Novak, and RBI doubles by Olivia Hawkins and Paige Greene gave the No. 3 seed a 4-2 advantage.
The Panthers rallied to tie the game in the seventh when a two-out single by Ulvin and a double by Tori Weaver set up a two-run single by Abby Morris to tie the game before TRF won it in the bottom of the inning.
Pachel’s single in the third and Ulvin’s single in the fifth were the only other hits for Park Rapids. Ulvin went 2 for 3 and scored twice and Pachel went 2 for 3 to lead the Panthers’ seven-hit attack. Tretbar took the loss, allowing four earned runs on six hits and three walks with five strikeouts.
Rogalla earned the win, striking out nine, as the Prowlers advanced with a 14-6 record.
In the other Section 8AA North playoff games, No. 8 Roseau eliminated No. 9 Crookston 4-2 before being eliminated by No. 1 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton 9-0, No. 2 Hawley shut out No. 7 East Grand Forks 13-0 and No. 3 Warroad defeated No. 6 North Polk 9-7.
In the Section 8AA South playoffs, No. 9 Ottertail Central eliminated No. 8 Menahga 9-7, No. 1 Pequot Lakes shut out OTC 10-0, No. 5 Barnesville defeated No. 4 Fergus Falls 5-2, No. 2 Frazee defeated No. 7 Breckenridge 6-4 and No. 3 Perham routed No. 6 Wadena-Deer Creek 13-1. Menahga ended the season with a 7-14 record.
The section tournament continues at Thief River Falls and Frazee with the championship game scheduled for June 10 at Frazee.