Softball: Park Rapids manufactures dramatic playoff win over EGF
The Panthers prevail 3-2 in 9 innings despite being held to only 2 hits.
PARK RAPIDS – Despite being held hitless and trailing 2-1 in the sixth inning, head coach Marion Goeden was confident that the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team would rally and avoid being eliminated from the Section 8AA playoffs on Tuesday, May 23.
The Panthers scratched across the tying run in that inning and manufactured the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to advance with a 3-2 victory over East Grand Forks.
“We didn't really know anything about EGF, but we assumed a No. 6 seed would be easier to play than what we saw. We never expected to have to fight so hard for the victory,” said Goeden. “I have a lot of faith in this team and its gritty attitude. I trusted they would give it everything they had. It was especially fun how calm and confident they remained even after some adversity on the field.”
East Grand Forks, the No. 6 seed in the North, took a 2-0 lead in the fourth on an RBI single by Emma Marcott.
The No. 3-seeded Panthers cut the gap to 2-1 in the bottom of the inning when Mickey Clark walked, stole second, advanced to third on Nora Cederstrom’s sacrifice bunt and scored on a sacrifice bunt by Anna Yliniemi.
Clark scored the tying run in the sixth by being hit by a pitch, stealing second, advancing to third on Cederstrom’s sacrifice bunt and scoring on a passed ball. Yliniemi followed with a single for the Panthers’ first hit of the game.
After neither team scored in the seventh, Goeden encouraged her team to keep battling in extra innings.
“I said: ‘Someone gets to be a hero tonight’,” said Goeden. “Nobody makes the last out."
After Clark singled and was stranded on third in the eighth, Park Rapids pulled off the win in the ninth. Ylineimi led off by drawing a walk. Pinch runner Rachel Ulvin stole second and advanced to third on a passed ball before scoring the winning run on a sacrifice bunt by Chloe Tretbar.
Both teams struggled to get runners on base all game. The Green Wave had only seven baserunners while Park Rapids had seven runners reach base as all three pitchers were dominant on the mound.
EGF’s Karlee Walsh allowed only two hits, four walks and a hit batter while striking out 17 in taking the loss. Tretbar started and allowed two runs on three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in five innings. Ali Roberts pitched the final four frames, allowing only one hit and a walk while striking out four.
“Even though this team has battled like this in other games this season, being in a do-or-die playoff game puts a whole new spin on the situation,” said Goeden. “I am very impressed with their composure and tenacity. We have a team where players are accepting of their roles, totally support each other in every situation and make every day a good day to be playing ball. I've enjoyed this season so very much.”
In the other Section 8AA North tournament games, No. 1 Thief River Falls received a forfeit win over No. 8 Red Lake, No. 2 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton eliminated No. 7 Crookston 10-0 and No. 4 Hawley defeated No. 5 Warroad 11-1. In the South half, No. 9 Perham defeated No. 8 Ottertail Central 15-5 in a play-in game, No. 1 Breckenridge ousted Perham 14-0, No. 2 Wadena-Deer Creek defeated No. 7 Frazee 13-4, No. 3 Barnesville eliminated No. 6 Pelican Rapids 9-2 and No. 4 Hawley defeated No. 5 Fergus Falls 11-1.
Park Rapids will play D-G-F at 4 p.m. at Thief River Falls on Thursday, May 25. Another game will follow at 5:30 p.m. The next round of the section tournament moves to Frazee on May 30 with the championship game set for June 1 at Frazee.
East Grand Forks 000 200 000…2 4 0
Park Rapids 000 101 001…3 2 1
W–Roberts, 6-1. L–Walsh.
Park Rapids hitting: Rowland (0-4), Clark (1-2, 2r), N. Cederstrom (0-4), Yliniemi (1-3, 1rbi), Tretbar (0-2, 1rbi), A. Cederstrom (0-3), Persons (0-3), Shepersky (0-2), Huber (0-1), Michaelson (0-3), Ulvin (0-0, 1r).
Park Rapids pitching: Tretbar (5ip, 2er, 3h, 1bb, 7k); Roberts (4ip, 0r, 1h, 1bb, 4k).