After opening the season with eight straight wins, including seven by at least 10 runs, Marion Goeden was expecting a tough test when the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team hosted Detroit Lakes in a Mid-State Conference doubleheader on Thursday, May 2.
Detroit Lakes snapped the Panthers' nine-game winning streak to open last season with a 4-2 victory and entered this year's rematch undefeated in conference play and rated No. 13 in the latest state Class AAA poll. Park Rapids, which had outscored its opponents 115-12 to open this season, was also undefeated in Mid-State games and remained in the No. 6 spot in this week's state Class AA poll.
Sparked by three home runs in the first game and five extra-base hits in the second game, the Panthers' kept their undefeated streak going by sweeping their conference rival by scores of 10-0 in five innings and 9-4.
In the opener, the Panthers used a hit batter, a single by Kendra Coborn, an error and Kylee Pachel's sacrifice fly to take a 2-0 lead before Abby Morris' solo homer in the second made it 3-0. A seven-run fifth inning ended this game early via the 10-run rule when two walks and a single by Natalie Kinkel set up a grand-slam homer by Kylee Pachel. After a double by Rilee Michaelson, Katelyn Weaver blased a two-run homer. Shailyn Pachel walked and stole home to end the game.
Michaelson threw a two-hit complete game, walking one and striking out six. The Panthers finished with seven hits.
A six-run fourth inning in the second game sparked the sweep. Kinkel tripled and scored on Coborn's grounder in the first before a hit batter, three walks, a bunt single by Shailyn Pachel, and Kinkel's bases-clearing double and steal of home made it 7-0 in the fourth. Detroit Lakes cut the gap to 8-4 when two errors led to two runs in the fourth and Madilyn Kirchner followed a solo homer by Michaelson with a two-run homer in the fifth. Kinkel scored the final run on Kaisa Coborn's RBI single in the sixth.
Kinkel (2 for 4, three runs, three RBI), Kylee Pachel (2 for 3) and Shailyn Pachel (2 for 3) led the Panthers' 10-hit attack. Michaelson went the distance, allowing seven hits and three walks with two strikeouts.
The win lifted the Panthers to 8-0 in the conference and 10-0 overall while Detroit Lakes fell to 6-2 in the conference and 8-4 overall. With two games remaining, Park Rapids also locked up at least a share of the Mid-State title for the fourth year in a row.
"The first game will be one we'll remember for a long time. That game ranks up there as one of our best in years. Hitting four home runs in one night against this quality program is part of what made the night extra sweet," said Goeden. "Our team batting average is respectful halfway through our season. Our players are seeing the ball well. Even with the less than perfect weather and cramming our schedule in such a short window, this team finds a way to stay focused and they are having fun."
Detroit Lakes 000 00...0 2 1
Park Rapids 210 07...10 7 0
Park Rapids hitting: Kinkel (1-1, 2r), Ke. Coborn (1-3, 1r), Ka. Coborn (1-2, 1r), K. Pachel (1-3, 1r, 5rbi), Michaelson (1-3, 1r), Weaver (1-3, 1r, 2rbi), S. Pachel (0-2, 1r), Morris (1-2, 1r, 1rbi), Ulvin (0-1, 1r). 2B: Michaelson 1. HR: K. Pachel 1, Weaver 1, Morris 1. SB: S. Pachel 2.
Park Rapids pitching: W-Michaelson (5ip, 0r, 2h, 1bb, 6k).
Park Rapids 100 611 0...9 10 2
Detroit Lakes 000 220 0...4 7 2
Park Rapids hitting: Kinkel (2-4, 3r, 3rbi), Ke. Coborn (1-3, 1rbi), Ka. Coborn (1-3, 1rbi), K. Pachel (2-3, 1r), Michaelson (1-3, 2r, 1rbi), Weaver (1-3, 1r), S. Pachel (2-3, 1r, 1rbi), Morris (0-3), Ulvin (0-2, 1r, 1rbi). 2B: S. Pachel 1, Ke. Coborn 1, Kinkel 1. 3B: Kinkel 1. HR: Michaelson 1. SB: S. Pachel 1, Kinkel 2, Michaelson 1.
Park Rapids pitching: W-Michaelson (7ip, 4r, 3er, 7h, 3bb, 2k).