Gabriella Steele's grand-slam home run broke open close game and powered Thief River Falls to an 8-1 victory over the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team in a Section 8AA playoff game at Park Rapids on Thursday, May 23.

Thief River Falls, the No. 1 seed in the North, took a 1-0 lead in the third inning when Alexis Huot was safe on a bunt and scored when the throw to first sailed into right field.

The No. 2-seeded Panthers responded in the fourth when Kaisa Coborn led off with a single, advanced to second on a throwing error and scored on Shailyn Pachel's two-out RBI single. Abby Morris followed by reaching on an error and stealing second, but TRF pitcher Alexa Rogalla stranded both runners on base.

Thief River Falls broke the game open with a five-run fifth. A walk to Eme Gunderson, a single by Haylie Rogalla and a bunt single by Alexa Rogalla loaded the bases with no outs. After Huot's sacrifice fly, Steele connected on a bases-clearing homer to left field as the Prowlers claimed a 6-1 lead.

Haylie Rogalla led off the sixth with a single and scored on three wild pitches. Alexa Rogalla walked and scored the final run on Huot's RBI double.

Kendra Coborn singled with one-out in the first, Morris doubled with two outs in the second, Natalie Kinkel singled and Kendra Coborn walked with one out in the fifth, and Kylee Pachel singled to lead off the sixth to account for the Panthers' other baserunners.

Alexa Rogalla struck out five for the win while Rilee Michaelson gave up eight runs on eight hits and five walks over six innings for the loss.

Thief River Falls improved to 21-3 on the season and joined Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton as the only undefeated teams in this double-elimination tournament. The Panthers fell to 21-2 as the tournament continued at Park Rapids on May 28.

In the other playoff games at Park Rapids on May 23, the Panthers defeated No. 3 Warroad 6-1 and Thief River Falls defeated No. 5 East Grand Forks 6-0. East Grand Forks eliminated Warroad with a 7-2 victory. At Frazee, D-G-F (the No. 1 seed in the South) defeated No. 4 Perham 10-0 and No. 3 Pequot Lakes 3-0 while Pequot Lakes defeated No. 2 Hawley 1-0. Perham eliminated Hawley with a 3-2 win.

Park Rapids 000 100 0...1 6 2

Thief River Falls 001 052 x...8 8 2

Park Rapids hitting: Kinkel (1-4), Ke. Coborn (1-2), Ka. Coborn (1-3, 1r), K. Pachel (1-3), Michaelson (0-3), S. Pachel (1-3, 1rbi), Morris (1-3), Weaver (0-3), Bera (0-1), Ulvin (0-2). 2B: Morris 1. SB: Morris 1.

Park Rapids pitching: L-Michaelson (6ip, 8er, 8h, 5bb, 2k).

Panthers defeat Warroad

After battling through three scoreless innings, the Panthers erupted for four runs in the fourth to take charge in the first playoff game on May 23.

Walks to Michaelson and Shailyn Pachel and a bunt single by Morris loaded the bases with no outs. Katelyn Weaver followed with a walk before Kinkel's two-run double made it 3-0. Kendra Coborn plated Weaver with another bunt single. Kaisa Coborn followed with a bunt single, but the Panthers left the bases loaded.

Kennedy Wallace reached on a bunt single and scored on Marlie Johnston's single in the fifth as Warroad cut the gap to 4-1 before the Panthers sealed the win by scoring twice in the bottom of the inning. Shailyn Pachel led off with a single, Weaver singled with one out and Cassidy Bera reached on an error to load the bases. Kinkel and Kaisa Coborn followed with RBI singles to end the scoring.

Kylee Pachel and Michaelson led off the second with singles, but were stranded. Kendra Coborn and Kaisa Coborn singled with two outs in the third, but were stranded as the Panthers left 10 runners on base.

Kaisa Coborn (3 for 4), Kinkel (2 for 4) and Kendra Coborn (2 for 4) led the Panthers' 12-hit offensive attack while Michaelson threw a five-hitter with two walks and four strikeouts in a complete-game win as Warroad fell to 12-11.

Warroad 000 010 0...1 5 2

Park Rapids 000 420 x...6 12 2

Park Rapids hitting: Kinkel (2-4, 3rbi), Ke. Coborn (2-4, 1rbi), Ka. Coborn (3-4, 1rbi), K. Pachel (1-4), Michaelson (1-3 1r), S. Pachel (1-2, 2r), Morris (1-4 1r), Weaver (1-2, 1r, 1rbi), Bera (0-3, 1r). 2B: Kinkel 1. SB: Michaelson 1.

Park Rapids pitching: W-Michaelson (7ip, 1r, 5h, 2bb, 4k).