After losing to Thief River Falls in the Section 8AA North title game, the Park Rapids fastpitch softball team was faced with having to win five straight games in order to win the Section 8AA championship.
The Panthers began that quest with a pair of victories in elimination games at the Park Rapids high school field on Tuesday, May 28.
Park Rapids (the No. 2 seed in the North) eliminated Perham (the No. 4 seed in the South) 7-0 before ousting Pequot Lakes (the No. 3 seed in the South) 5-2. Pequot Lakes defeated East Grand Forks (the No. 5 seed in the North) 11-1 in five innings in the first game.
In the battle of unbeatens, Thief River Falls (the No. 1 seed in the North) edged Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (the No. 1 seed in the South) 2-1 to advance to the championship game. Park Rapids and D-G-F will meet at 1 p.m. on Thursday (May 30) for the right to play Thief River Falls for the section title. That game will be played at 3 p.m. on Thursday with another game (if necessary) to follow at 5 p.m.
Rilee Michaelson threw a six-hit shutout as the Panthers stayed alive by eliminating Perham in the first game.
Michaelson allowed six singles while forcing 18 infield outs to go along with three strikeouts as the Yellowjackets left six runners on base with only one advancing to third
The Panthers took a 1-0 lead in the first when Natalie Kinkel singled and scored on an error.
In the fourth, a walk to Kylee Pachel and an error set up a two-run triple by Michaelson, who scored on a passed ball to give Park Rapids a 4-0 advantage.
Two errors, a double by Abby Morris, and RBI singles by Kinkel and Kendra Coborn concluded the scoring in the sixth.
Kinkel (2 for 4) and Kendra Coborn (2 for 3) led a seven-hit attack as the Panthers recorded their eighth shutout of the season. Perham, which lost to Park Rapids 10-5 on May 7, ended the season with an 11-8 record.
The Panthers followed with an 11-hit offensive attack while stranding 10 Pequot Lakes runners on base to advance with a win in the second game.
Kaisa Coborn's solo home run with two outs in the first gave the Panthers a 1-0 lead before Shailyn Pachel singled and scored on an error in the second for a 2-0 advantage.
Maria Rickard's RBI double cut the gap to 2-1 in the third before Park Rapids scored three times in the fifth on a single by Kaisa Coborn, a double by Kylee Pachel, an error, and RBI singles by Michaelson and Katelyn Weaver.
The Patriots, who left two runners on base in the second and fourth frames, scored an unearned run in the bottom of the fifth before stranding two more runners on base. Pequot Lakes also left two runners on base in the sixth.
Kaisa Coborn (3 for 4), Kylee Pachel (2 for 4), Shailyn Pachel (2 for 4) and Michaelson (2 for 4) led the Panthers' offense. Michaelson went the distance for the win, allowing two runs on nine hits and seven walks with three strikeouts.
Pequot Lakes, which dropped a Mid-State Conference doubleheader to the Panthers by scores of 10-0 and 21-6 on April 26, ended the season with a 15-7 record.
"We knew we needed to play a clean defensive game. We had one error in the two games. Rilee's pitching creates many grounders and that was a factor also. Timely hitting to bring in those runners that were on base was also key," said Park Rapids head coach Marion Goeden. "In order to take three games in one day, we can't look ahead. We will need to stay in the moment. We had this same situation a couple of years ago. The knowledge that we needed to play a third game wore on us. If we stay in the moment, we will be alright. We definitely have the talent to win. In order to get this done, we will have to have a strong dose of tenacity."
Perham 000 000 0...0 6 4
Park Rapids 100 303 x...7 7 0
Park Rapids hitting: Kinkel (2-4, 2r, 1rbi), Ke. Coborn (2-3, 1rbi), Ka. Coborn (0-3), K. Pachel (0-3, 1r, 1rbi), S. Pachel (1-3, 1r), Michaelson (1-3, 1r, 1rbi), Morris (1-2, 1r), Weaver (0-2), Ulvin (0-2), Offerdahl (0-1), Arola (0-1, 1r), Bera (0-0). 2B: Morris 1. 3B: Michaelson 1. SB: Weaver 1, Morris 1.
Park Rapids pitching: W-Michaelson (7ip, 0r, 6h, 0bb, 3k).
Park Rapids 110 030 0...5 11 1
Pequot Lakes 001 010 0...2 9 2
Park Rapids hitting: Kinkel (0-3), Ke. Coborn (0-4), Ka. Coborn (3-4, 2r, 1rbi), K. Pachel (2-4, 1r), S. Pachel (2-4, 2r), Michaelson (2-4, 1rbi), Morris (0-3), Weaver (1-3, 1rbi), Arola (1-3), Bera (0-0), Ulvin (0-0). 2B: Arola 1, S. Pachel 1, K. Pachel 1. HR: Ka. Coborn 1. SB: Weaver 1, Ulvin 1.
Park Rapids pitching: W-Michaelson (7ip, 2er, 9h, 7bb, 3k).